Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota, in an early morning press conference told the protesters, “You need to go home. Our neighbors are afraid.” Imagine being afraid for your safety in your own town. In your own house or business. Imagine that. Pretty scary, right? Now imagine 400 years of that fear. 400 years of oppression. 400 years of being treated like sub-human garbage. Imagine that. If you’re White, you can’t imagine it. If you’re Black, you live it. George Floyd felt the weight of those 400 years on his neck when he was killed on camera by a police officer.
“Our neighbors are afraid.” You bet they are. I will never agree with anyone who thinks that violence is the answer to a problem. I have friends that own a music store in St. Paul. It was broken into and robbed. They have spent many years and many thousands of dollars building that business and in a very short amount of time that dream was taken from them. Maybe they can rebuild it. Maybe they can recover. I certainly hope so. Many other businesses have been looted, burned, and destroyed by the violence. What’s happening is not the issue. But that’s what is being focused on. News agencies report the violence. But how many of them are bold enough to ask why the violence is happening? Are they protesting the death of George Floyd? They are, but it’s much more than that. It’s 400 years of oppression. 400 years of being treated like sub-human garbage. That’s what this is about.
Remember George Floyd’s name. Remember it. Say it. Say it out loud. Look up the names of other black people who have been killed by police. Read their stories. And the name of the police officer who killed Mr. Floyd? If you heard it, forget it. His name doesn’t matter. In fact, none of the names of the killers of unarmed Black men are important. And why is that? Because they’re not important. They’re nothing more than cogs in a wheel. They’re a virus. They are a part of the face of an epidemic that has gripped this country from its very beginning. The police officers who have killed unarmed Black people are the same people who first brought Black slaves here from Africa. They are the slave traders, the slave owners, the oppressors. They are a virus worse by far than COVID 19.
We have a culture here of fear. Fear of “The other.” We fear other races, other religions, other beliefs. Fear something long enough and you will begin to hate it. You hate that which makes you afraid. That’s why the protests are happening. People are afraid. And we will all remain in fear until we realize that we have the power to change it. Nothing will change until WE change it. Nothing.