The events of this past week do not alarm me. I am sickened by them but not fully surprised. Systemic racism is real. The image coming out of Minnesota was not one of “serve and protect.” It was one of “domination and disrespect.” An image of “superiority.” George Floyd was suspected of “possibly passing a counterfeit twenty- dollar bill.” He was handcuffed, subdued, and unarmed. He posed no threat to the four officers present. He begged for air. He didn’t get it.
George Floyd died. Because of a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill? No.
George Floyd was killed because he was black.
Several years ago, a woman went shopping. She picked up a few household goods at one store, paid with a twenty and received her change. She stopped at her favorite thrift store. She enjoyed finding treasures others no longer considered useful. She appreciated the idea that at least a portion of the money she spent in that store helped people in need. She found something she liked and took it to the register. Change she received from the previous store more than covered the cost. She handed the cashier the money.
The cashier considered the ten-dollar bill in her hand and asked for her manager. The manager inspected the bill and recognized it as counterfeit. The woman, flustered and confused, told the store manager about her previous purchase and that this bill was part of the change she received there. The police were called. The woman had given all the information she could offer.
She clearly handed the counterfeit money to the store clerk but was never considered as a felon in any way, shape, or form. That woman was my mother. She is white.
It’s called profiling. Racial profiling.
I am sickened as I watch the video of a man who cannot breathe. Another man with his knee on the victim’s neck. We should all protest such disregard for human life. And we are. All across the nation. All around the world.
I am encouraged this week by the peaceful protests by people of all colors, shapes, sizes, and ages who take their first amendment right seriously and stand together against systemic racism.
I am discouraged by trouble makers who seize the opportunity to loot and destroy. Their agenda is born of evil.
I am encouraged by the police officers, city officials, and governors who have taken a knee, humbled themselves to a call for justice, walked side by side with protestors, and listened with care and consideration to the concerns of the people in their cities and states.
I am discouraged by the inflammatory and self-serving words and actions coming from the White House.
I am encouraged by people like Jimmy Fallon. He abandoned his regular format this week to humbly admit his own errors in judgment and to use his platform to be an agent of change.
Profiling. We all do it in one way or another. We size people up on a regular basis.
If my mother had been black, hers would have been a slightly different story, a bit more involved but possibly with the same outcome. However, if this had been a black man with a counterfeit ten-dollar bill at that thrift store, the story could have been entirely different.
His name could have been George Floyd.