Reaction and Analysis: Death of George Floyd

I engaged in social media communications regarding the state of race relations in America prior to coming on here to get my thoughts out. It was in my mind that I would type today, but -to be honest- I was lulled to sleep on the couch with my three-year-old while watching PJ Masks. Perhaps it was the excitement of having finally watched the Game of Thrones episode “The Long Night” last night, or the all too familiar antics of the masked child heroes running around in animal costumes this morning.

**short segway**

How is it that these elementary school students save the “day” each night and still are bright-eyed when it comes to being at school the next day?

**And, we’re back**

For whatever reason, my morning thoughts got lost in my nap, and then I decided to engage in dialogue after seeing a C-SPAN post. I’m hoping that some of my initial thoughts return as I go through them now.

I deliberately chose to stay quiet about the George Floyd case because I knew that there was more to come. The first series of reactions were as expected: differing political sides began standing their ground. The first was that we didn’t know what happened, and the other side saw a black man being killed by people. Both were true. Then a back photo showed that there were three police officers on the man with a fourth standing by and doing nothing. The next we found out that the man was either engaged in forgery -a non-violent crime- or there was reasonable suspicion that he was about to engage in the illegal act. I’m sure more of that will be hashed out as we go forward. What is known is that the man had not committed a violent act. Not only had he not committed a violent act, but he also begged for his life as a police officer knelt on his neck, reminiscent of the death of Eric Garner at the hands of some NYPD officers. Keeping all this in mind, these statements of fact, I’m going to move on to the point of the post.

The post in question asked, “Are race relations in the U.S getting better, getting worse or staying the same?”

** another segway**

I’m not sure why it bothers me that they don’t use the oxford comma on the final object in the serial. I feel as though print media is so nuanced that they know what they’re doing, but I’ve watched, read, and listened to John McWhorter enough to know that it’s not necessarily right or wrong, just something that sticks in my craw.


Now, my response to the question, in the most basic of terms, is -and this is just one man’s opinion- that they’re getting better. I have no empirical data to back this up, but I do my best to pay attention to societal and cultural contexts and responses. What I believe, is that if it were getting worse, there would be no widespread outcry against the deaths of George Floyd or Eric Garner. I do not say that racism, in and of itself, has been eradicated from the United States of America. There is much data to show that people are very tribal. The relationships we build -from our earliest days with the immediate family to our ever-widening exposures to the world through schools, communities, and beyond- have the tendency to make us protective of those around us. Now, I’m not trying to start a philosophical debate in this forum about why this is, but I do believe that in the most basic terms, racism often begins as a tribal response to a perceived threat, be it against a way of life, religion, etc. The more exposure people have to one another, the more open-minded they can, and tend to be, to external influences.

The internet, social media, and the smartphone, specifically, have given us the ability to connect with those outside of our immediate influences in real-time and with no geographical limits. What we’re seeing today is that as news of these atrocities is brought to light, people from all walks of life come together to decry the events. People are coming together to speak out against police brutality against all people. Most importantly, the desire by the general populace for those who perpetrate inhumane actions to be held accountable has increased.

I can speak on police brutality as a problem within society against all people, but I’ll do so at a later date. I only wanted to speak on the C-SPAN question I responded to because it tended to be at the focal point of what I saw this morning in my initial moments of catching up on the news. For those who care, that does -absolutely- mean that I was looking at my phone. One generation used to wake up and read the newspaper at the table as they sipped on their coffee. I do much the same, but I scroll through Twitter for my news to see what trends are and how people are reacting at the moment. Police brutality is an issue in America, especially as we see the increased authoritarian behavior of local and state governments in response to COVID. The state maintains the monopoly on violence, and violence is the only tool it can use to maintain its power. As people begin conducting civil disobedience by violating quarantining, isolation, and mask requirements, I’m sure you’ll see more and more of it. There’s more to unpack on that, but we’ll save that for another time.


Published by Shaun M. Wilkinson

Poet. Author.

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