George Floyd and the Language of the Unheard

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A letter left at a house last week.

We all saw the video. A police officer had his knee on the neck of George Floyd. It was a carotid restraint, and the officers claimed he was resisting arrest. Without a video, we would not have more than the words of the officers. Without the video from a restaurant, we would not know the lie to the story. Floyd was not resisting.

The big picture is that young black men continue to be executed by police officers. Whether it is Eric Garner or Floyd, “I can’t breath.” Two men died. The New York Police Officer association fought the firing of the officer. In this case, the four officers were fired. Yet, it looks like the local DA, and even the Feds, are slow-walking this. They have yet to be arrested.

Why am I leaving the names out? It could be any of a hundred cases over the years. It could be Rodney King, the first of these names that entered my consciousness. That riot came from the same well of anger at what looked like white officers almost never seeing justice. A black man’s life is not as valuable as that of a white person. It’s clear in our society. Why white officers rarely face the music. They are the tip of the spear for a system of social control going back centuries.

They know it. The rest of us know it.

This is why African Americans, and to a lesser extent other minority youth, get the talk. If you do not know what the talk is, you are not a member of any of these communities. This talk is given at around ten to twelve years old. Children are told how to behave around the police. They are told to keep their hands out of their pockets. Even if their young minds don’t fully grasp it, it is heavily implied that to white people they are no longer children, but threatening thugs. And their parents are correct. See Tamir Rice. And there are many others like Tamir, who have been pushed against walls, feet separated and frisked, not just in New York. Why? The color of their skin.

People of color in the United States are not equal to whites. This is something internalized as people attend poorly funded urban core schools. It is emphasized as unemployment rates are always higher. The beat goes on as people have trouble getting to schools, and attending in elite schools. This is why we have a system of Black Colleges.

It does not stop when people do join the workforce. Did I not get that promotion because of the color of my skin, or my colleague was actually better? These doubts never go away. And you still can be arrested for walking while black, working while black or driving while back. You can be shot for running while black. Especially when running in the wrong neighborhood. This is why a CNN crew was arrested on air this morning. They were reporting, while brown.

These systems of social control are rebuilt by every generation. They are there to remind minorities of their place in society. This is why the election of a black man, truly mixed race, which is worse, angered some in white America. The symbol of miscegenation in the White House was too much for them. This is where the birther conspiracy came from. A black man in the United States could not rise to this office.

This is also why President Donald Trump, a la Bull Connor, has called for the shooting of looters. Oh never mind there is a theoretical justice system that sees all as equals under the law. It is the same system that refused to arrest an officer for taking a knee on a black man’s neck under the illusion that they still needed to investigate. To people who are always mistreated by “the system” that was code for we are looking for an excuse for murder on a video. This is why the police precinct had to burn.

Now, there is a fantasy with some white allies. If somehow the country went far left, whatever that means, all these tools of social control would go away. That is part of the revolution I suppose. These are over 400 years old, they will not magically disappear if we go far left. However, as whites are going, it’s getting worse, no it’s not. It’s just getting filmed. So now that we cannot hide our collective head in the sand, the first step is to name it: Racism. The second is to do something about it.

We need to educate all.

We need to stop tolerating it during thanksgiving dinner. No, your crazy uncle that rants on minorities is not peculiar, he is racist.

We need to speak out when we see it.

It is a public health threat, and it shortens the lives of people who we force to live in fear.

Systems can be torn down, but only when we understand why this keeps happening. Incidentally, another why. Why do people destroy property? What is valued more than black and brown lives in the United States? You guessed it, property. So if you are horrified by the loss of a restaurant, a Target, or an auto repair shop, but not about the triggering event…time to re-evaluate those values.

Incidentally, every time we have a riot, whether it is Los Angeles, a low-level one in El Cajon a few years back, or Minneapolis…like clockwork people, white people, complain that the thugs are not from their community. They are outsiders. Why? It’s old code, for our good negros. I used the word because that is exactly how it’s been used for centuries. Even people who are way progressive do not understand this. The systems of social control are internalized with your mother's milk. It’s not just blacks, or Hispanics, who are taught their place early. It’s also whites, who move through life with a series of advantages due to the genetic lottery.

Yes, poor whites have it hard. But they will not be arrested or killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They will not get the job because of their name, or because they sound black. They will not be told to straighten their naturally kinky hair. They will not be told their hair smells odd. They will not be questioned at the voting booth. Chiefly, an officer will not kill them at the drop of a hat.

Police need the training to get them away from this thinking. Hiring minorities did not fully change them. Why? We still tolerate it. And officers are very protective of each other: This is the thin blue line. They are the tip of the spear in this system. A good start would be to arrest officer Chauvin. I suspect that if they did not slow walk it, perhaps none would still be in the streets, and the precinct would not have burned.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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