On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street.
A bystander recorded the incident on their cell phone and uploaded it to the internet. I first saw the video, which was marked as "Sensitive Content", on Shannon Sharpe's Instagram.
As the video started, my initial reaction was telling, "G'damn... Another cop getting caught red handed being overly aggressive with a black dude..."
I skipped a few minutes ahead to see how the situation would unfold.
They were in the same position: The white police officer driving his knee into the back of this guy's neck... I can barely make out the screams, "My stomach hurts, everything hurts..."
I fast forward again and the black man now lies lifeless as more and more bystanders are screaming for the white cop to get off of him.
There's an Asian-looking cop just standing there. Do something, dude...
Finally an ambulance arrives. But it seems too late. It takes 2 paramedics and 2 police officers to move George Floyd's unconscious body onto a gurney.
Did I just watch a man get killed by the police on the internet?
Since the passing of George Floyd, I'm sad to admit I've mainly sat on the sidelines.
I didn't post a black tile to my IG on June 2nd. I haven't joined a local protest. I haven't donated a dollar to racial justice efforts. I've barely joined in on the conversations in group chats.
I've been a deer caught in headlights. Not knowing which action to take has lead me to inaction.
This stems from a limiting belief I've held my entire adult life:
"Will anything I say or do actually make a difference?"
I'm embarrassed to admit the following:
- I've never voted for a local or national government official.
- I've never taken a political stand.
- I've never supported a polarizing movement I believed in.
But that stops now.
Recent events across the United States prove the death of George Floyd is a catalyst for this nation. It's also a catalyst for me.
When Luna learns about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee (among many others) in her US History class 15 years from now, I want to be able to explain how her parents were part of the solution.
Alas, I'll openly admit I still have no idea what to do...
So for now I'll follow in the foot steps of some of my oldest and dearest friends.
- Paul wrote a short piece on Medium (4 minute read) explaining his thoughts on the matter and how he intends to contribute his professional expertise to the advancement of racial justice through Campaign Zero. ** I've copy and pasted his entire article below**
Finally, I'll continue to educate myself on systemic racism. These two videos, in particular, were eye opening for me.
by Paul Kim
Written on June 2nd, 2020
I, like many, have been trying to process my thoughts amidst current events.
Let me start by saying:
- I stand with protesters.
- I stand with Black Lives Matter.
- I stand for George Floyd.
As I scroll through my Instagram feed today, I see nothing but black squares. I appreciate the gesture of #blackouttuesday.
Awareness matters. But I hope we do not think that is enough. This issue will not be resolved with a social media hashtag.
In processing my thoughts and emotions, I’ve started to ask myself, what is the end game for these protests? What is the action that we are looking for to justifiably end these protests?
We can not allow this to pass without action, else we sentence the next George Floyd to death.
My central humanitarian philosophy is that all people should have access to basic physiological (food, water, shelter) and safety needs (personal security, health, basic financial security) to allow pursuit of psychological needs and self-actualization, whatever that looks like for the individual.
To date, my focus has been on refugees and homelessness as the materialization of these issues. However, I now better understand the contrast that racial inequality has with my core philosophy.
While refugees and homeless populations have obvious deficits in fundamental physical securities, systemic racism has created an environment where black people lack core safety needs.
By stepping out of their homes and going to the corner store, or going out for a run, there is a non-zero risk to their lives. That cannot be.
What makes even less sense is that across the US, the deficit in personal safety is exacerbated by those that are meant to serve and protect.
The very people who are meant to provide a sense of personal security are the ones taking this core safety need away from our black community.
In light of the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee, and the perpetual murder of other black citizens at the hands of those that are meant to serve and protect them, I have landed on police accountability as the immediate policy action that needs to be taken to end the protests, and start the path to eradicating systemic racism.
I am still learning and I am still processing, but I am looking to understand how I can take action.
In my research, I came across Campaign Zero, a police reform campaign proposed by activists associated with Black Lives Matter (yes this is plagiarized from Wikipedia, sue me).
On their page, they have a sign up link where they are looking for people to help with:
- Policy Research & Advocacy
- Data Collection & Analysis
- Design & Development of Platforms
- Elections & Political Campaigns
I’ve filled out the form (link), and I hope to contribute my time and skills to the Data Collection & Analysis piece.
I know that I have many, smart friends, whose skill sets align with these 4 needs. I would urge you, my friends, to consider donating your time, skills, and knowledge to the pursuit of a resolution.
Whether it is Campaign Zero, or another organization looking to address the policy issues rooted in racism hiding under the guise of something else.
I would love to hear of other organizations looking for help in such matters.
I urge everyone to do their own research, and process your own thoughts to these questions. What is the change we want to see?
Ending systemic racism is an ideal. It is something we ought to strive for, but we are, unfortunately, generations away from accomplishing this.
And abolishing systemic racism requires incremental actions that remove the foundations within our society and justice system that allow for systemic racism to persevere in our country.
You may decide that you will focus on a different issue. Advocating for societal awareness of privilege and systemic racism is a valid path.
Awareness matters. Or criminal justice reform. Or any number of issues that I know nothing about because my eyes and ears have been closed to such issues because they did not affect me.
The point is, there are dozens if not hundreds of issues that need to be addressed to eradicate systemic racism.
The ask is that we choose one where we can help and do more than post on social media about how we are outraged by injustice.
So yes, please continue to post on social media, and donate your money if you have the means, but please consider donating your time, your minds, your hustle, your knowledge and skills developed over decades of academia and professional experience to the cause.
If you’ve read all of this, thank you for indulging me. Perhaps I should have posted on Medium (oh look, i did). Please stay safe, both in protests and with covid-19, and let’s all come together to drive change.