Editor: I have been thinking a great deal lately about a person I have never met — George Floyd. How horrible to see someone murdered, how difficult to watch the video. I don’t want to view it. I don’t want to be a witness to the vicious cruelty. I want to stop watching, but I and you and everyone else have to keep watching. We have to acknowledge that someone whose entire job is to protect and defend led to another black man losing his life to police brutality.
I wept in horror when I watched the video of Ahmund Arbery being chased and gunned down while unarmed and jogging for exercise. I cry at the utter disregard for human life. Now, our nation mourns. We can’t allow this racism to be our normal.
The human race seems to hate so quickly. That hate has devastating consequences. The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the disparities and destruction that race plays in America as African Americans are dying at a much higher rate from the virus. Our country’s entire social construct continually reinforces race and racial disparities. No legislation will transform this unless we individually decide to change and adapt to a new standard with racial equity at the forefront.
Hearing the words of President Obama, I took some comfort. His wisdom and compassion still inspire me and give me hope. “It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal” — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”
It will fall mainly on Minnesota officials to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is served. But it falls on all of us, to never sit silent witness to injustice, bigotry, and the un-equal treatment of others. Now is the time to understand race disparities more, recognize the role you play, and how you can actively help make us a better, stronger, and fairer nation.
Now is the time to create a new normal.
Mayor Kelly Burk, Leesburg