KT edit: American dream turning into a racist nightmare
Protesters gather at the scene where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was pinned down by a police officer kneeling on his neck before later dying in hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. May 26, 2020.
Floyd's last words articulate what the Black America is feeling right now - choked
This is the 'new normal', we are often told about our lives amid the pandemic. And yet, there is an odd familiarity in the scenes that are now emerging from a burning America. Scenes of devastation after an unarmed black American man was physically intimidated by a white Minneapolis Police officer that finally led to his death. If anything, it is a reminder of yet another invisible enemy human beings have reconciled to live with - racism. Prior to May 25, George Floyd was one among millions of Americans who lost their jobs due to Covid-19 lockdown. And yet, on that fateful day, from an American, he became a Black American. An alleged criminal who presented a $20 bill that was counterfeit. The punishment saw a white officer kneeling on his neck, which finally choked him to death. In the many disturbing videos bystanders have taken, an enfeebled Floyd is seen pleading to the officers to spare him. "I cannot breathe," he said.
Floyd's last words articulate what the Black America is feeling right now - choked. Floyd's is not the first case, and neither will it be the last. According to the Washington Post, between 2015 and 2016, 26.4 per cent of those who were killed by police in the US comprised black men. The number is fairly shocking, given that according to the US Census, Black Americans make for 12 per cent of the population. Apart from raising questions on the inherent biases in the force, it also points to a certain institutionalisation of racism in a body that is meant to protect every American citizen. It does not help that the man helming the country is known for spewing racial slurs himself and has endorsed white supremacists in the past (neither his description of the violent Charlottesville protesters as 'fine men' nor the recent threat of 'when looting starts, shooting starts' inspire confidence in his leadership). Once an uneasy calm substitutes the anger on the street, chances are we will return to our 'new normal', reconcile ourselves with public reassurances. For now though, we must challenge the idea that gives a white supremacist power over a Black American, and spell out, "We are not in this together."