Is This the Last Straw?
I was 12 years old when Trayvon Martin was murdered. Fast forward 8 years and as a 21-year-old I had to watch the video of George Floyd, another black man, get murdered. In the same month, I had to watch the video of Ahmaud Arbery get shot to death.
These stories and videos have become too familiar in recent years. People of color losing their lives over trivial things. Losing their lives at the hands of racists, and those who were meant to protect and serve them.
History will continue to repeat itself until we all learn from our mistakes as a society, and George Floyd’s death is an example of this. Ahmaud Arbery’s death is an example of this.
July 17, 2014, Eric Garner lost his life at the hands of New York City police officers while saying the words, “I can’t breathe.” Damn near six years later, George Floyd uttered those same words before dying at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was followed and shot by a self-proclaimed vigilante. Eight years later, we watched Ahmaud Arbery get followed and gunned down by three white men who were acting as the legal authority. Each incident years apart, yet each one mirroring the other. All of them murdered on the streets. All of them losing their lives too soon.
The cycle of murder and outrage is ongoing and it seems like it will never end. Before the age of social media, racism, and bigotry in the U.S have always existed. Smartphones and social medial only magnified it. For all the people around my age and younger, we are slowly becoming desensitized to all the injustices and trauma. We protest, we riot, we create hashtags and we move on.
After watching the video of George Floyd pleading for his life, it’s hard to just simply move on and forget. In a 10 minute long video, police officer, Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine. In broad daylight, with bystanders begging and pleading for the officers to check his pulse, Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck with his hand in his pocket. George Floyd’s cries for his mother as he was being suffocated to death did nothing to get Chauvin’s knee off of him. The fact that he died while being detained for allegedly forging a check is an outrage.
There is a sense of deja vu in all of this. We have all been here before, we have all felt this anger before. Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and now George Floyd. Different people from different places, but they share a common skin color. For those who argue that it’s just a few bad apples wearing the badges, has it ever occurred to you that maybe there shouldn’t be any bad apples in the police force? A few bad apples have taken a lot of innocent lives. A few bad apples murder people in cold blood with no signs of remorse.
The peaceful protest, the petitions, and the hashtags haven’t worked. Despite all of this we are in a stagnant position, nothing is changing. They haven’t heard us or they just don’t want to listen. Colin Kaepernick summed it up perfectly when he said, “when civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction.”
Each revolution has a moment that sparks it. The lynching of Emmett Till sparked the Civil Rights movement. The murders of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd will spark a new revolution. I look all over social media and I see my peers are all feeling the same anger and sadness, I turn on the news and see footage of riots in Minneapolis.
This murder seems like the last straw, but is there such a thing as the last straw with racism in America? No matter what we do we find ourselves back at square one, back in the same state of mourning and anger. Racism is a part of America's identity and it's impossible to shake it. Emmett Till should have been the last straw, Rodney King should have been the last straw, Amadou Diallo should have been the last straw, Trayvon Martin should have been the last straw, and George Floyd should be the last straw. In reality, this will continue to happen, it's in America's DNA.
Rest in peace to all the kings and queens we lost to police brutality and racism. Sleep in peace George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and all the people that lost their lives before them.