By Kris James/Opinion
In February, two white men chased and confronted Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man, while he was jogging. He was killed during the encounter. In March, police officers crashed into the apartment of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman, and shot her multiple times. And in May, three police officers pinned George Floyd, a Black man, to the ground, with one kneeling on his neck until he could not breathe. Floyd died.
First of all, it wasn’t until MAY, 2 months later when the video footage of Ahmaud Arbery being murdered was released. I was wracked by a feeling of intense sadness at the senseless loss of this man’s life. Then outraged, because there were people who thought this was okay. A few weeks later, George Floyd. I couldn’t stomach the sight of watching the last 8 minutes and 46 seconds of another black man losing his life. All I can think to my self is how can you no have empathy for another human life? That is my question.
As a Black gay man, I cannot escape the sense that it doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved, or what you’ve contributed to society, Racism is alive in the south. As a black person, you learn from a very young age that you need to have your wits about you. Children are born without prejudice, but racism is learned. Growing up I realized that no matter how nice or cool I tried to be at school those white kids weren’t inviting you to no birthday party. In my teens, I learned that the color of my skin would get me into trouble for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. My mother made sure I had extra manners, that I was always respectful, and that I wasn’t a problem. She knew that black men don’t get too many chances in this world. My grandma also told me to be good when I left the house. My mom still makes me check in with her. I used to not understand it but I get it now. It’s the thought that one day I might be a name on a shirt.
We have to keep educating ourselves and our friends, or the problem won’t stop. Racism is an ugly southern trait that needs to be thrown out. People of color didn’t create racism, so it’s not only OUR burden but it’s everyone’s burden. I’m not condoning the violence or the harm of police offers. I support free speech, and the rights of people to protest, though I would caution that people make safe arrangements in the light of the pandemic. Racism needs to be called out and we need to do it together.
We can’t make any more excuses. This is 2020. There is a new generation rising and they deserve better. Get to know people from other races. Read books that challenge your preconceptions. Watch documentaries that inform your values. Be curious. And do not turn a blind eye when you come across a racist act, big or small. The time to act is now.