I thought it was about the money.
I am a white woman currently making minimum wage working in a box store for a living. You make more money in a year than I will see in my lifetime.
I did not understand why you knelt for the National Anthem. How can you protest the country that has allowed you to rise and make all that money? YOU do something about financial inequality out of your own pocket.
I didn’t understand until I watched George Floyd die.
I cried. No matter what this man did, it certainly was not worthy of a slow, painful execution without due process. I’ve heard conflicting stories: It was a fake $20 bill. It was a bad check. He might have been 100% innocent of any wrongdoing.
I watched the smug look on the cop’s face, and I grew sick to my stomach. How can this happen?
Riots have erupted across the country. Like most white people, I used to sit back and say, “What good is that? Why are they looting? It’s not going to fix anything.”
Then I read a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Their anger needs a voice. Few were listening when you and others knelt.
There is a reason for the disconnect between the races. It’s the books we are taught in school. We are taught: Lincoln freed the slaves, Southern Reconstruction fixed the country after the civil war, Blacks were made citizens and have the right to vote. And that was over 100 years ago. So we are left wondering, what is this man protesting about? There are African-American doctors, lawyers, neighbors. What is the deal?
What we were not taught in school: The Black Codes in the South, Jim Crow, debt peonage, or how in 1913 Woodrow Wilson segregated the Federal Government workers. Different offices, different bathrooms. Any progress made after Reconstruction was virtually wiped out.
We are told: 13th, 14th, 15th amendments. Everything’s good now. Here’s your diploma. Liberty and justice for all.
We join the rat race, trying to make our money outlast the month. Feeding our kids, paying our bills, coming home from work exhausted and falling asleep in front of the tv.
While I have been scared whenever I was stopped by a cop, and several have been nasty and condescending, I confess I never feared for my life. But others have. White people are wrongly killed by cops too. This does not diminish African-American suffering.
Check out the graph: killed by police
Lest the death of George Floyd be in vain, let this be a tipping point in history, for us to begin to heal the divide.
Again, I am sorry.
SueAnn Porter blogs in her spare time and you can visit at www.sueannporter.com She is the author of Arm Wrestling with Pharaoh, a modern-day bible commentary. She is also working on a novel about Southern Reconstruction and will be looking for a publisher.