People sometimes say there are ‘no words’ to convey what they are feeling. This is usually a reaction to a situation that’s so extreme and distressing that it’s difficult to move beyond an emotional response. That’s how I’ve felt over these past three weeks in relation to the killing of George Floyd. Today, I feel I’ve found the words to at least say something …
The New York Times reported George Lloyd’s death:
‘On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 and told the police that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life.’
As well as news reports, a video covering George Floyd’s horrific death was put out into the world. The video went viral, its contents distressing and gut wrenching. How utterly shocking that he died as a result of his pleas being ignored by the person supposedly there to protect him. George Floyd’s calling out for his mother in the last few moments of his life has haunted me from the first moment I read about it: ‘Mama’ he cried to his late mother: ‘Mama … I’m through.’
Not long after the video of George Floyd’s death became public, this slogan started to appear on posters and city walls worldwide and shared on social media:
ALL MOTHERS WERE SUMMONED WHEN GEORGE FLOYD CALLED OUT FOR HIS MAMA
His words resonate deeply; even in adulthood, most of us know what it feels like to need the comfort and reassurance of a mother. I’m a mum to adult sons myself, but I’m not black, and while I’ve had moments of worrying about the safety of my sons, particularly in their teenage years, I’ve also had the privilege of not having to live with the fear of knowing that my children were never completely safe – even from the people who were supposed to look out for them and protect them. My timeline is currently crammed with evidence, captured on camera, that the lives of black people are frequently put in danger because of systemic racism and violence inflicted upon them by people in authority.
‘SILENCE IS VIOLENCE’ is another strong message being relayed as part of the Black Lives Matter campaign. And so today, the very least I feel I can do is add my voice – to honour the life of George Floyd, and also to add my support to the people who are continuing to campaign and to demand reforms to the criminal justice system.
A number of radical changes have been made already since George Floyd died and yesterday, this BBC article reported ten things that have changed in the past three weeks:
Here’s to continuing to address these issues and to continuing to move forward.
Rest in peace, George Perry Floyd Jr. October 14th 1973 – May 25th 2020