On May 26th, 2020, I woke up and found America raging. A 46-year-old black man by the name of George Floyd was killed by white police-officer, Derek Chauvin, over an accusation of passing a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Chauvin had pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for several minutes, causing Floyd to mutter the infamous phrase, “I can’t breathe.” Twenty dollars, inconsiderable change to some, sentenced this man to death, while across the country, white-collar crime is costing the country an average of 300 billion dollars a year. And George Floyd is not alone. In just 2019, 1,099 people died due to police violence, with 24% of those people being black.
With Coronavirus deeming 2020 to be already known as a devastating and historical year, George Floyd’s murder is sparking a new wave of history. For several days, peaceful protests and burning riots filled the streets of Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York City. There is anger on both sides of the law, but deeper than anger, there is hurt. Social media is filled with people voicing ways to be activists for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, while others are using it as a platform to voice their own story.
Global media, however, has turned its focus to the rioting happening in cities across America. With many sides to each story of burning buildings and looted stores, it’s a confusing time to have an opinion, especially when one wrong word can bring hate from across the globe. The nation is completely divided, going beyond a simple two-sided contention. Some view rioting as a necessary part of the change, while others believe violence is not the answer. Not choosing a side is seen as an even worse offense, with bystanders being seen as oppressors. There is an unasked question of how much you are willing to sacrifice to seek change for what you see as right. It’s a battle of morals, but we have yet to decide the future cost.
America is angry, and between the police, the rioters, the protesters, the media, and everyone in between, it is hard to find a solid ground to stand your opinion on. Hatred has never been more prominent, but there is a dilemma in each of us in determining whether to justify it. Morality is being examined through a deeper lense, but what’s important is not worrying how you will be perceived, but how you can be part of the change. Neutrality is a form of oppression, so while it’s tempting to resume a normal routine, nothing about our normal was ok. There are several different ways to help, from donating to opening up conversations about racism. Status shouldn’t prevent someone from doing the right thing. America is burning, and we need to decide if we are going to help extinguish the flames or pack up and leave.