Where we are and what we must do
May 25 marked two years after our dear brother George Floyd was murdered in a modern-day lynching by Minneapolis police. The world was shaken and discombobulated when we all observed a White police officer press his knee into the neck of a handcuffed and subdued Black man for nine minutes and 29 seconds, squeezing the life out of him before our very eyes.
The image of this horrific and hate-filled murder is forever burned our minds like the branding mark on farm cattle. The American public began to realize that the continuous complaints by Black Americans about America’s criminal justice system being rooted in a long history of racism and anti-Black racial oppression were true.
To be clear, the horrific murder of George Floyd is not an anomaly in America. America has a long history of anti-Black hate which is woven into its fabric. This anti-Black hate has killed and is still killing thousands of Black men, women and children regularly with no signs of letting up.
After Floyd was lynched, the calls for systemic change in America, particularly in American policing, were loud and clear. It seemed like everyone finally recognized the need for better policing, and demands to “defund the police” became a rallying cry for Black people around the country.
Many promises were made to change the pernicious pattern of anti-Blackness and anti-Black police violence. Elected officials, community leaders, business leaders, and corporate giants called for and promised to bring about racial justice and equity for Black people.
Financial support was given to support Black causes, programs, initiatives, and Black-owned businesses to address deep-rooted racial disparities. Despite all these efforts made to bring about racial justice and equity for Black people after Floyd’s murder, Black people still suffer from deep anti-Black racism, police violence, and oppression.
According to a recent article in Forbes by Jared Council, “Black Americans are still more than twice as likely as White Americans to be shot and killed by police.” Jared goes on to say, “The total number of fatal shootings by police has barely budged since Floyd’s death.”
In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, to address systemic racism and police brutality in the Black community. However, the bill did not advance in the Senate.
The fact that the U.S. Senate did not advance the George Floyd Justice bill suggests to me that there are many who are opposed to racial justice and want to maintain a system of oppression and terror on Black bodies. They approve of the way Black people are policed.
So, what do we need to do? How do we change our present reality? How do we liberate ourselves?
- We must stand together and demand justice.
- We demand an end to anti-Black police terror by using every resource at our disposal. We have no choice; we’re the ones being lynched.
- Stand strong and never stop fighting.
- Fight the best way you best know-how. God has given all of us tools (gifts), and we must
- use them to save ourselves.
I end with the words of two of our ancestors.
Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.”
Kwame Ture (aka, Stokely Carmichael): “We have to stop reacting and become aggressive. We can no longer stand up and beg anybody for a victory or concession… If you beg a man for a victory, and he gives it to you, it’s his victory, not yours.”
James Trice is the founder and CEO of Public Policy Project and the creator of Environmental Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC).