I am not sure what to think or feel. I can’t.
The brutal death of George Floyd leaves me numb, stunned. As much as watching his death triggers revulsion to my core, I recognize I am not equipped to appreciate systemic racism fully. I am a white male born in the 20th century.
In some ways, I am an unintentional cog in the cruel machinery perpetuating the condition of systemic racism. History proves silence is every bit as dangerous as physical actions against another.
I am from an immigrant home. Unbeknownst to me, my skin color would provide me with opportunities and advantages as I chased my God-given and constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In my world, if I kept my nose down, worked hard, told the truth and stayed out of trouble, my efforts would translate into me realizing my dreams.
Our home was wide open and loving. My mother knew she was an outsider and was always welcoming of others. And for us to treat anyone differently was not even on the radar. I never once heard an unkind word uttered about someone’s race, creed or religion. And I thought that was the way of the world outside our home.
But I was wrong.
As an adult, I learned there was a big ugly world running below the surface. Moving around the country, I began to recognize there were hurtful judgments placed on others for unmerited reasons. And the more I learned, the more I read, the more I realized I could never fully appreciate the pain and injustice.
Imagination is a poor translator of the painful reality of systemic racism. To fully understand racism or discrimination, you must be the recipient of the injustice.
I hope and pray the death of George Floyd is a watershed moment for our nation.
In the past several weeks, we’ve seen a black man, Ahmaud Arbery, attacked with vicious intent while running along a street in Georgia. He died, I believe, because of his skin color and the prejudices riding shotgun in the pickup truck tailing him.
And the image of George Floyd’s death cannot be unseen.
Floyd was not in custody for a violent crime. Nor was he considered a threat to society. One does not need to connect too many dots to see a picture of systemic racism come into focus. Being black should not be a crime he paid for with his life.
America is better than this. Humanity is better than this.
We need not let this moment pass without making sure platitudes get turned into real progress.
I may not fully appreciate the pain and indignities others experience, but I know enough to listen to others and act on what I see as wrong.
I am proud of the peaceful demonstrators. It is time for our society to push forward from platitudes to progress. Only then will our nation more fully realize the greatness and opportunities written into both our Constitution and human DNA.