|George Floyd (Family photo)|
I cried when I watched the videotaped murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The officers his flat foot and the blue wall of silence cohorts stood by and did nothing as the forty-something-year-old Black man was slowly tortured and killed.
I cried because as an African American man in America in 2020, I have also experienced the intense pain of having the bony knees of social injustice, racism, bigotry, and hatred pressed against the back of my neck too many times to count. I have also had the knife of duplicity and phoniness stuck in my back by alleged friends and colleagues so many times that the scabs on my backside have become permanent scars. Despite all of this, I have somehow managed to survive for the past 57 years—poor George Floyd did not
While I admit publicly to shedding more than a few tears of sorrow and grief for George Floyd, I do so reluctantly because for decades, I always read and heard that real men don’t cry. A real man is tough, cold, rigid, and devoid of emotion. I heard that if a man showed emotion, it was a sign of weakness and fragility. If you cried, you were not a real man, is what people always told me. As I watched George Floyd beg and plead for his life and even call for his mother while dying on the ground, I couldn’t help but to dismiss all of those anachronistic and patently false wise tales and let my emotions penetrate my stoic and always in control aura.
However, after the tears, the hard-nosed journalist and muckraking reporter roared out with an unstoppable vengeance. How could this happen? Why didn’t anyone try to help him? Did the police murder a man on live video? Is this yet another example of a person of color tormented by the police? He said he couldn’t breathe; he was visibly distressed; why didn’t the officers allow him to get up? Why did the officer keep his knee pressed on the back of George Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes? In the video, the officer appears to increase the pressure on Floyd’s neck after the man said he couldn’t breathe and screams; why did the officer do that? Then, the selfish me emerged. What if an officer stopped me, threw me on the ground, and put his skinny knee against the back of my neck for more than 8 minutes? What could I have done? Would anyone have helped me? If I begged and yelled that I couldn’t breathe and please let me up, would the cops ignore my pleas? Would I end up dying in the middle of the street in broad daylight like George Floyd?
While my sorrow has since turned into rage, frustration, and angst and a steadfast determination to write about it with a semi-objective, albeit venomous pen, I’ll admit that it’s not the first time I cried about an incident similar to this one. I cried when I watched Rodney King being nearly beaten to death by the police in 1991. I cried when I read about 23-year-old Amadou Diallo being shot to death by the police in 1999. I cried when I watched 43-year-old Eric Garner being choked to death by the police in 2014. I cried when I saw 32-year-old New Jersey resident Philip White punched by police officers while a police dog attacked him in 2015. He died on the way to the hospital. I cried when Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Ahmad Aubrey became unwitting victims of law enforcement gone wrong.
If my emotional reaction to these egregious events and countless others makes me less of a man to some, so be it. I’ll live with it, and so will anyone else who I choose to be within my inner circle. RIP George Floyd and to all the others like you. The fight for justice and equality is far from over.