It’s been a year. One hell of a year. Some may think I’m referring to COVID-19, some might think I’m referring to Trump and his idiotic antics that I believe harmed America and helped enhance a divided country. Others might even think of our obvious climate crisis. These issues would be easier to accept and deal with than what I’m thinking of today. I’m referring to the murder of George Floyd.
A year ago, I watched 8 minutes and 46 seconds of the murder of George. Obviously it was disturbing, disgusting and heartbreaking. Thanks to a televised trial, which I watched, I’ve now seen 9 minutes and 29 seconds of George’s murder. I could not understand or even comprehend how this could happen to a fellow human being. Since May 25, 2020, many more videos have shown apparent murders of Black men and women at the hands of police.
When the Black Lives Matter movement started, I, like many others thought “all lives matter.” After all, we elected a Black president. Twice. How could we be a racist society if we elected a Black president? How naive was I? I was so naive that I didn’t know that Black Lives Matter started in 2013 after Treyvon Martin was killed.
The videos of George Floyd being murdered were clear cut and obvious. Thankfully the jury agreed. When I saw the full video, I was stunned, disgusted and driven to tears. It was then that I better understood the Black Lives Matter movement. That was the moment I understood that if Black lives don’t matter, none of our lives matter. I’m still learning the things I was never taught in high school such as 1619, Juneteenth and the Tulsa massacre of 1921. We should all try to be learning more.
I’ve spent the past year learning as much as I can. Learning, listening, paying attention and doing what I can. I recently learned the term microaggression. This is defined as “any action or statement regarded as an instance of subtle, often unconscious, prejudice and hence resulting in discrimination against a member of an oppressed group” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary). That is a lot to think about. It boils down to the way we act toward human beings who appear different than us.
I recently heard Jonathon Capehart of MSNBC’s “Sunday Morning” describe what it’s like to be a Black man. When he leaves his house, every single time, he has to go through a “mental calculus” to anticipate what he might come across because he’s Black. He needs to know which pockets his phone, keys and wallet are in. He has to accept people cross the street when he’s on the sidewalk, he has to be aware of where his hands are at all times. He has to watch people check their purses or wallets when he is around. Me? I get to walk out the door with few worries. It’s difficult to understand why this is still happening.
So please, ask yourself what you’ve learned this year. I hope you have personally tried to engage human beings who look different than you. I encourage everyone to review past articles of Rachel Baker’s “Water Cooler” weekdays in the Spokesman-Review. She has provided numerous book and film suggestions for Black History Month, AAPI history and Native American cultures, history and customs.
So much to learn and explore! And with a nod to Jane Condran, “who doesn’t love a rainbow”?