By Khaleb Johnson
As most are aware, George Floyd has not been the only one. Many people of color are oppressed by higher authority every day — beaten, killed, arrested without cause, simply due to the color of our skin. I myself am a young black man who lives in America and knows all too well the disgusting racism and systematic oppression that my people are subjected to and have been victims of for hundreds of years.
I recall a personal experience, when I was in middle school as an eighth-grader. I went to my first high school football game in a town in the San Fernando Valley that was predominantly white. There were probably a total of four black kids that went to my school, including my sister. When I got to the football game, I looked around for my friends at the time. I was approached by a group of white kids who went on to continuously ask me racially insensitive questions: “Is your favorite food watermelon?,“ Why are your lips so big?”, “ What’s up, my ni**a?”, and a lot more. I wasn’t comfortable with the situation, so I walked away and chalked it up to just a bunch of stupid ignorant kids, but then they proceeded to follow me and throw things at me. I ended up getting into a violent altercation with one of them and he told his mother. She confronted me, yelling at me, and when I told her that her son was being flat out racist, she refused to believe it and even threatened to call the police on me.
This is the type of thing that happens to so many of my people and to be quite honest, it makes me sick. The thing about this movement is that the world is coming to know and understand that we are being targeted and murdered by those whose job and purpose it is to protect us.
Black people around the world have been aware of and personally experienced this injustice for as long as we have been “free” in America and long before we became aware of George Floyd. Black parents have to live with the fact that when their child is born, that child comes into the world with a target on their back. If you are young and black, you have probably had the talk that black adults have to have with you, about the fact that you may die for nothing but what you look like, by people who would rather kill you than understand you and see you as a threat.
We have lived and fought this reality for centuries. Not too long ago, racist law enforcement used to burn down black neighborhoods, lynch us, tie us to the back of horses by our feet and ride off. Now fathers and children are killed for looking suspicious, for driving at night, for simply living their lives.
Trayvon Martin was killed for getting a pack of Skittles at night and it wasn’t even by law enforcement. We live in a society where we have to fight tooth and nail to get one cop arrested for just one of these killings. We all sat there and saw George Floyd’s life leave his body right in front of our eyes and it took the entire country to protest, to burn and break to get one of the men responsible arrested. Those who saw the truth had to shake the entire world simply for the law to do its job and make sure that George Floyd was the last to have to endure that fate. But to be honest, I don’t think he will be, not if we don’t do something about it. Cops are out there right now beating and brutalizing peaceful protestors, looking for any reason for them to put their hands on a protestor. Most don’t even look for a reason. Some of you have seen them, making up reasons, trying to incite purposeful violence by arresting hundreds of people.
No one should have to be physically assaulted for wanting to fight for those who want to live, to ensure their children, their friends, family, or even themselves aren’t the next one to get a bullet for being black.
So if you’re out there, fight, whether you’re black, white, Latinx, etc. It doesn’t matter, do whatever you can to stop this way of life that those with authority, that those in power and in charge of our country have gotten so comfortable with. We need every person in law enforcement, every person that has ever abused their power and killed innocent people to be arrested and prosecuted immediately. So help us, whether it’s on social media sharing what you’ve seen or holding up a sign and marching with everyone else. Voice your opinion, speak up, speak out. What you say matters. I also urge you to be careful about what you say as well, in terms of social media or maybe just out with your friends. This is a very serious matter. Please do not make jokes or take this lightly. This is not just another trend that will fizzle out with time; this is the lives of people and is a very sensitive subject. If you don’t get it or understand and know police brutality is not something you will ever have to face, accept the fact that you do not and that many never will understand and support those who do.
You have a responsibility to uphold justice in a country you expect it from. Maybe you lean on the side of patriotism and anti-protesting. Do not assume for one second that justice is not a fight we all have to battle. This war needs everyone against it, even if you think you as one person can do nothing, despite your color or your background because this will take everyone. Police are not given the authority to choose whom they want to protect, in the same way that doctors are not given the authority to choose whom they want to treat. It’s not Whites vs. Blacks, it’s Everyone vs. Racism.