George Floyd: A Black Girl's Ode to Black and Brown Bodies
I’ve been struggling for days to find the words to describe how I’m feeling about America. Being so far away from my country while it seems as though it’s bursting at the seams is no easy feat. Facing the reality of having a teenage brother that’s a black male in New York City is terrifying for me. It’s not right that mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters of black men feel they have to say a prayer every time that family member gets on the subway or leaves for work, simply because of their gender and the color of their skin. Black people should not have survivor guilt simply because they are alive in America. The pain black American families are feeling is immeasurable. I feel so closely connected to this situation, but find myself on another continent. There’s nothing I can say or recommend as a solution, so I'm using what I can to make a difference, my voice.
The murder of George Floyd was stealing. Derek Chauvin stole a life from George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbrey’s life was stolen. It’s shocking that in America, nurses train four to five years in higher education institutions to save lives, but to become a police officer, all that’s required is a high school degree and a few months of training to also "save lives". People are angry because a part of government, the criminal justice system, that should be saving lives is stealing lives from people of color. As Trevor Noah said, “Police in America are looting black bodies.”
I don’t condone looting or stealing, but why have police officers been able to steal so many lives without cities going into a state of emergency, but when it comes to stolen goods, businesses and local economies, it requires the attention of the government? Not to mention, there is significant evidence that many of the people that have been doing the looting are not black and brown bodies, they are white people, in some cases white supremacists, that use these peaceful protests as an opportunity to steal luxury items and lay it off on the Black Lives Matter community. Stealing is against the law, yes, but so is murder. This isn’t to say that stealing is justified, but considering the state of our country, this "bad" needs to be contextualized by what it’s in response to.
There is so much to say about our generation’s desensitization. It’s terrible that black and brown bodies being hurt and murdered have become normalized on the news cycles. This is not normal. Why do we refrain from broadcasting footage of animals being tortured or killed, but the shooting or suffocation of a black man is appropriate to be broadcasted? I think this pandemic has served as a reset for many of us. Police brutality has always been a problem in America, but during such a dire time in this global climate, we’ve paid more attention to it and we are fed up. We’re all staying at home, so no one has an excuse to ignore these harsh realities. This is why you should also be re-assessing who you surround yourself with during this time, be it digital or physical. If you’ve seen that some of the people you follow on social media, close friends, or even acquaintances, have taken this time to be silent and continue business as usual, this is not okay!
While it’s not your job to educate them, you do reserve the right to ask them if they’ve been keeping up with what’s going on, and ask why they haven’t felt the need to comment on the recent climate. If their response is that they’re not “political”, that is not a valid excuse! What’s happening in the US is not politics, it’s human rights. Everyone should be monitoring brands, friends, and acquaintances' social media, and holding them accountable. You cannot be an ally and remain silent during this time. If you are outraged by what’s been happening, do not continue to give friends a free pass simply because they have a “different outlook on life.” That outlook means that they do not agree that all human lives have the same value.
I find myself in a very unique position right now. As an immigrant in another country (France) I’ve struggled to find a way to participate in evoking change. My situation has opened my eyes to what some Americans must be feeling with varying immigrant statuses. Paris is having protests at the American Embassy as well, but I don’t feel comfortable attending because of the racist police presence that can persecute my visa status. During confinement, I’ve already been profiled for jogging when a police officer didn’t believe I lived in my neighborhood and followed me home to see if I really lived where my ID said. I can only imagine these immigration fears are amplified for immigrants or Green Card holders in the US with the strategic and aggressive presence of ICE during these protests in different cities. For anyone else grappling with how they can help during this time, here are some suggestions for what you can do.
Check-in with your black friends right now. Ask them how they’re doing and how their family is.
Donate protest supplies. If protesting isn’t for you, donate to protest health organizations with gas masks, milk, masks, etc., to stay safe from tear gas and stay healthy amongst the pandemic.
Use your voice. If you have a platform, use it! Continue to spread awareness in through more social circles.
Register to Vote!! This is so important! Make sure you are registered to vote where you are currently living! November 3, 2020 is around the corner. If you are abroad, register for your absentee ballot! If you’re in France and are a Democrat, Democrats Abroad has a wealth of information!
Call your local Congress Person. Do research on who you can call to voice your opinion at this time!
Stay informed. Information is power! We’re all at home right now, so use this time to stay updated.
We are a long way from where we should be in terms of equality, but please don’t allow this to discourage you into giving up! For any protestors, please make sure you wear your masks! Black people have already been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, so don’t let protests against injustice create a second wave of Covid-19 amongst black bodies. Stay informed, stay woke, stay present, and keep fighting!