When you’re part of a community, you feel the impact of injustice no matter where it happens in the world. EBCF Vice President of Marketing & Communications Stacey Manley, offers his reflections on the tragic death of George Floyd.
This holiday weekend, another Black man lost his life at the hands of state sanctioned violence. This time in Minnesota, where George Floyd was mercilessly killed by Minneapolis police. Lost among the news coverage is that Mr. Floyd was a father, a son, a friend, a human being. He died while handcuffed and pinned to the ground by four police officers; his neck crushed under the weight of an unrelenting knee that snuffed the life from his Black body. Much like in other instances, this too was recorded on video by a local bystander. The video also captured the voices of nearby onlookers frantically pleading that Mr. Floyd be treated with a dignity reserved for all human beings.
It remains to be seen what criminal consequences, if any, these officers will face. But all too often, when police use deadly force against Black men and women, America’s judicial system rarely holds the responsible parties to account, as the “go-to” explanation has been that officers (or so-called citizen cops) “acted out of fear.” It’s an all too familiar narrative as our country has a long history of pathologizing people of African descent as imagined boogiemen — to be feared, controlled or vanquished.
Four hundred and one years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans on these shores, being Black in America today means existing as a subject of perpetual scrutiny, a perceived threat to personal safety, and unsubstantiated white suspicion. The consequence is a widespread culture of white fear — and the ultimate price that Black America pays is the unspeakable killing of its fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.
In an America that has yet to reconcile its sordid history, what other outcomes are even possible?
If we want progress –– if we want to live in a country that lives up to the promises of its rhetoric –– if we want justice, fairness, and equity to ring true for everyone, then we must talk about race. But we cannot talk about race without also talking about its socially constructed origins, and the gruesome business of American slavery which produced a system of white supremacy and structural racism that routinely takes the lives of people like George Floyd and others.
My hope is that these men and women will not have died in vain. My hope is that perhaps these episodes will spark an understanding of the toll that systemic racism continues to exact on this country and inspire the better angels in all of us, to act in ways that truly make all lives matter.
Stacey Manley was vice president of marketing & communications at EBCF from January 2017 to September 2020. Find him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/staceymanley/