Antipas L. Harris and Norman A. Harris on George Floyd Spoke for All of Us: ‘I Can’t Breathe!’

“I can’t breathe” was the ceaseless, tenuous cry of a dying black man suffocating from the pressure on his neck by a racist murderer acting in the authority of law enforcement! George Floyd is yet another casualty in the homogeneous history of barbaric racism against blacks in the United States of America.  COVID-19 has been called a pandemic in America for only a few months.  Racism, however, is a longstanding pandemic on this soil dating back to 1619. This country has yet to reckon with its malicious, racist history. The problem is so deeply interwoven in society’s fabric until the broader culture has been anesthetized to the pain. It privileges some people at the expense of holding others back.

Throughout history, civilians and police officers have killed many black people. Some of the perpetrators died without paying the price. Others, such as George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson, were legally exonerated. We are not surprised. The system is not broken. It was built to protect racists! Some of the laws have changed; but the foundation remains, and each generation produces racists who wreak havoc in every sphere of society. Blacks have lived in this reality for many generations with little hope for an equal playing field for all Americans. The recent protests, riots, and lootings are a social outcry: “Enough Is Enough!”

George Floyd’s murder, caught on video, is a tipping point. Derek Chauvin’s knee mercilessly pressing Floyd’s neck is a graphic visual of how this country unfailingly has had its knee on the neck of black America. If that image is not convincing enough, consider how Omar Jimenez, the black CNN reporter, was taken into custody on national television while simply reporting the protest. His ID nor gentle explanation of his role as a journalist meant nothing against his black skin. Not far away from him, the Minneapolis state police treated the white CNN reporter, Josh Campbell, cordially and with dignity. Juxtaposing both situations denotes an intelligible expression of the racism America has far too long embraced. Blackness comes with a negative assumption amid white normativity. This is a systemic, structural, and social cultural problem that dominates the practices of far too many systems of power, as evident in unscrupulous policing, and the racial acts of many civilians the same.

Breonna Taylor and George Floyd murders are reminiscent of a history of policing that has historically targeted black communities, dating back to its origin as slave patrol in the South. Ahmaud Arbery’s assassination is painfully reminiscent of the 1955 Emmitt Till murder in Money, Mississippi. The allegations surrounding the two cases are different; however, the racial actions taken by citizens to assume the power of protecting the community from a black man is the same. Moreover, whether George Junius Stinney, Jr., Emmitt Till, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Jamee Johnson, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor or a host of others, American history proves that there is an assumption of mysterious guilt when a white person says a black man did something wrong. History is paved with morbid pre-judgemnts for which black people had no day in court.

Racist narratives have shaped the entire existence of blacks in America, including the post-Civil War era of Jim Crow as evidenced in the 1920 Tulsa Race Riot when thousands of blacks were killed at the hands of the KKK (who were never charged). Mischaracterization of blacks, negative blink responses to black skin, and the black experience in general are all resulting harms from white supremacy. Any reasonable and good-hearted person should see that the pain is real. We need all hands-on deck to realize the overdue change of systems and social culture.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Antipas L. Harris and Norman A. Harris