In a country with hundreds of years of having enslaved African Americans, we still suffer from the repercussions of that history.
Amid a historic, worldwide pandemic, with more than 100,000 Americans having died from the coronavirus, yet another Black man was murdered by white police. Likened to a modern-day lynching, recorded by several onlookers, Minneapolis resident George Floyd, known as the “Gentle Giant” and “Big Floyd,” was murdered by Minneapolis police, in such a dreadful manner.
I found myself covering my eyes to keep from seeing him tortured to death! Killed by a white police officer with three officers assisting, and while they kept the ambulance service on the scene from saving Floyd’s life.
The officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. It is extremely difficult to put myself in Floyd’s shoes, considering the fact that I suffer from merinthophobia, a fear of being bound, tied up or handcuffed.
Floyd’s death has sparked protests in Minneapolis and in more than 20 other cities from coast to coast, including New York, Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles and Fayetteville, N.C., where Floyd was born.
Who was George Floyd? After moving to Houston as a youth, he had difficulty finding employment. After serving a few years in prison for burglary, he decided to relocate to Minneapolis, hoping to find more job opportunities. He did find work, changed his life, volunteered to help children and was beloved by his community.
So why exactly are cities rioting the way they did when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed? As the saying goes, Floyd’s death was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The Washington Post cites that Black Americans are disproportionately killed by police. Although half of the people shot and killed by police are white, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for only 13 percent of the U.S. population, but more than a quarter of police shooting victims. The disparity is even more pronounced among unarmed victims, of whom more than a third are Black, the article stated.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently drew controversy for publishing another study on police killing disparities. Here in America, African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people.
That’s according to a new study conducted by Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice, Washington University in St. Louis’s Department of Sociology and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. The researchers, using verified data on police killings from 2013 to 2018 compiled by the website Fatal Encounters, found that roughly 1 in 1,000 Black boys and men will be killed by police in their lifetime.
According to 2015 report by The Guardian, Blacks in the U.S. were killed by police at a rate five times higher than white men of the same age — 1,134 in that year alone.
I have two sons and three grandsons. We must teach them how to survive in America, just living while Black. It is as important as teaching them to brush their teeth. This is something they must do every day!
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.