“A Riot is the Language of the Unheard” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The recent murder of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, follows the slaying of a black man, Ahmaud Arbery, while jogging in Georgia; of Breonna Taylor, an EMT worker who was shot to death by police in her own home; and a white woman called the cops on a black man, Christian Cooper, in New York’s Central Park while she was violating the park’s leash law and he was innocently bird-watching. All these incidents are recent and most were captured on video. They are a grim reminder that 400 years of conscious, institutionalized racism, a by-product of slavery in America, is not easy to wipe out. America’s persistent racial bias was demonstrated not only by these incidents but also by the incongruously high death toll of minorities hit by the deadly coronavirus.
It is thus no surprise that protests broke out across the nation. In Minneapolis the police precinct where the murderers worked was breached and set ablaze, along with other businesses. In Colorado, shots were fired near the State House. At a protest in Louisville, seven people were shot. The streets of New York City and Los Angeles erupted, and in Washington DC the White House went into lockdown as demonstrators surrounded it.
The Woman’s National Democratic Club stands united in our collective disdain and disgust for the intentional and blatant targeting of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Freddie Gray, Eric Gardner, Botham Jean, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, Alton Stirling, and countless others. We are aghast at President Trump calling protesters “THUGS” and suggesting violence against them. This is the same man who called White Supremacists, who murdered an innocent woman and threatened violence against other innocent citizens, “very fine people.”
The WNDC echoes the clarion call to recognize that Black Lives Matter! Black men and women should never walk out of their home fearing never to return. No one should ever feel unsafe in their own homes or be afraid to go to a park or to church. We repeat, BLACK LIVES MATTER!
According to a statement by President Obama, “…We have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’—whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”
This year has already been catastrophically unsettling. In the broader context of the health emergency wreaked by COVID-19 and the resultant economic collapse highlighted by over 40 million unemployed and counting, we might be witnessing a rupture similar to the economic dislocation of the Great Depression and the social convulsions of 1968 combined.
Referring to endemic racism in our society, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, Vice President Joe Biden said, “The original sin of this country still stains our nation today, and sometimes we manage to overlook it.” He called the USA “a country with an open wound.” It is up to us to heal that wound. Providing justice is a necessary step towards achieving that goal. Acknowledging endemic racism as a wider problem, putting in place legal mechanisms with fair and just laws, and implementing those laws without bias by the police and the justice system, will help break down generations of suspicion and mistrust and go a long way to restoring peace. In the George Floyd incident, multiple officers are clearly culpable and should also be charged, arrested and held accountable. Police brutality is criminal behavior. It is exacerbated when it is clearly based upon a racist agenda and explicit bias. Unabashed racism must be confronted head-on. The time for denial, white-washing and covering up America’s overt racism is over. The cancer of racism lies exposed. We need to excise it, once and for all.
President, Woman’s National Democratic Club
May 31, 2020