George Floyd murder: Anger and heartache

When I first heard the news of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis, my immediate thought was, “Again?”

Unfortunately, as an American,news of this kind has become nothing of novelty. As my family watched George Floyd’s last breaths, a list of names began to run through my brain. Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, SandraBland, Philando Castile, Brenona Taylor, and countless others whose deaths I have seen on the news since as far back as I can remember.

I began to think about all of those who died at thehands of police whose names I had never heard, and who, like many of those I knew about, had never received justice.

Police brutality is not new, the system was founded on racism. Many police forces, especially those in the American South, were created as a means of preserving the system of slavery. Early policing institutions were slave patrols that were tasked with capturing escaped slaves and many police forces post-Civil War functioned in a similar way to those early patrols, enforcing segregation.

Unfortunately, it often seems as though the police has not evolved since then. The issue of police murdering or severely violating the rights of Black Americans is a problem that extends far beyond the city of Minneapolis. It is an issue which has poisoned nearly every police department in the nation. It is an issue which although extremely prominent in America, is not limited to its borders.

The systemic racism in our policing and criminal justice system can also be seen in nations throughout the globe. Systemic racism in America permeates almost every sector of life. The experience of discrimination has become such a large part of everyday life, that we are often unfazed in the face of oppression and come to think that that is how life is.

We normalize discrimination and become used to being part of this oppressive cycle to the extent that we cannot immagine life without it. It is often so present, that we do not even know when it is present. Many of us do not know that things we use every day like our public transportation systems are built the way they are as a direct result of segregation. As a nation who claims to be founded on freedom and the rule of law, the United States fails to acknowledge that it is nowhere near as free as it claims to be.

A nation founded on the backs of slaves cannot be free when half of the nation still finds itself deprived of basic freedoms and protections under the law. It cannot be free when black and minority ethnic communities are severely under-represented in our leadership locally and nationally.

It cannot be free when Black Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of white Americans. It cannot be free when there is such an incredible discrepancy in sentencing or when ex-prisoners are disenfranchised. And it definitely cannot be free when murders like that of George Floyd continue to be a frequent part of our daily news. But again, systemic racism is not only an American problem, it is a global issue.

We see it in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. It is important that we learn to recognize it in ourcommunities and unite to take action against it. As a Latina, I know that racism towards the Black community is often present in the Latinx community, and I have seen the same issue with other non-black minority communities. It is important for minority communities, like Asian and Latinx communities, to recognize that although we also experience discrimination, often members of our community also play a role in the discrimination of Black people.

This can be seen directly in the fact that one of the police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd was Asian. We must learn to see that by failing to acknowledge our privileges in certain sectors,we are often part of the problem. We must look at the rampant colorism present within ourcommunities and the way that we discriminate against darker skinned people around us. We need to understand that we can’t expect change for our group without demanding change for others. We have to start talking about the racism in our communities, and realize that our ability to staysilent on the discrimination of Black people is in itself, a privilege.

We must come together by protesting, having discussions, and educating ourselves and others if we want what happened to George Floyd to stop from occurring again. The death of George Floyd and countless others should not be in vain. We must honour their memory by fighting for police reform and the dismantling of systemic racism so that our next generation can grow up in a world where Black lives matter.

Jennifer Ramirez
OBV US Intern