Before you judge or say anything about George Floyd’s death you need to watch the video and know what happened. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/30/video-timeline-george-floyd-death/?arc404=true
A lot of people are saying that “it’s horrible that a black man died due to police brutality, but there should never have been looting”. They may say “I support the protests, but not the looting and rioting.” And “the police officers were fired and have been charged. Why are people still protesting?”
I won’t lie – I also thought that. But then I educated myself both by reading, watching movies, and talking with others. George Floyd’s death was tragic, but it is just one example of the racism and pain that Police have inflicted upon the Black Community. Racism was a problem in Minneapolis long before George Floyd’s death.
Why are we outraged? And why are there protests and riots?
It is good that the officers who murdered George Floyd have charges pressed against them, but the issue runs so much deeper. That is why the protests are ongoing.
George Floyd died before our eyes in the video. And the police officer kneeling on his neck is calm. Why is that? Why was he so calm? Why didn’t he move when George Floyd said he couldn’t breath?
The officer was so calm because he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong, or if he did think he was, he did not think there were be harsh repercussions from his actions. That points to a systemic problem and racially charged attitude.
There is a negative relationship with the police:
In May 2020 there was a white woman who threatened a black man who was bird-watching. She threatened to call the police, and falsely report that he was threatening her life. Her actions and words revealed her perception about the police and the black man: that they had a negative one. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/26/us/central-park-video-dog-video-african-american-trnd/index.html
What good does the looting do? – the Social Contract
One of the videos I watched was by Trevor Noah. He asks the question: “What is society? It is a contract… And, as with most contracts, the contract is only as strong as the people who are abiding by it.”
“If you think of being a black person in America who is living in Minneapolis or Minnesota or any place where you’re not having a good time ask yourself this question: what vested interest do they have in maintaining the contract?” (9:08)
“Some members of that society, namely black American people, watch time and time again how the contract that they have signed with society is not being honored by the society that has forced them to sign it with them. When you watch Ahmad Arbery being shot and you hear that those men have been released and, were it not for the video and outrage, those people would be living their lives, what part of the contract is that in society? When you see George Floyd on the ground and you see a man losing his life…at the hands of someone who is supposed to enforce the law, what part of the contract is that. And a lot of people say, well, what good does [the looting] do? Yeah, but what good doesn’t it do. That’s the question people don’t ask the other way around… how does it help to not loot Target? Answer that question. Because the only reason you didn’t loot Target before was because you were upholding society’s contract. There is no contract if law and people in power don’t uphold their end of it. And that’s the thing I think people don’t understand sometimes is that, we need people at the top to be the most accountable because they are the ones…setting the tone and the tenor for everything that we do in society. It’s the same way we tell parents to set an example for their kids, the same way we tell captains or coaches to set an example for their players, the same way you tell teachers to set an example for their students. The reason we do that is because we understand in society that if you lead by example, there is a good chance that people will follow that example that you have set. And so, if the example law enforcement is setting is that they do not adhere to the laws, then why should the citizens of that society adhere to the laws when, in fact, the law enforcers themselves don’t?“(10:11-12:08)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4amCfVbA_c
Trevor Noah’s words are powerful. We shouldn’t be asking ourselves if the looting is wrong, we should be asking why there is looting. The looting is being perpetrated by angry people who have been ignored for a long time.
Public Health Disparities
Racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. (cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/racial-ethnic-minorities.html)
Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women are 2-3xs more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes compared to white woman. (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html)
There is structural racism and health inequities. Ever since the American colonial period there have been racial hierarchies that have allowed white Americans to earn more wealth and have more privileges than non-white Americans as well as maintain political dominance. The structural racism has played a role in shaping the distribution of social determinants of health and the population health profile of the USA, including health inequities (Bailey, Krieger, Agenor, Graves, & Basett, 2017).
What are Social determinants of health?
What should we do?
Educate. Educate. Educate. We need more people to understand structural and systemic racism. It starts at the individual level, but it needs to become a structural change.
And for things to really change there needs to be changes at the top of ladder. Leaders need to lead by example.
And most important – we need to vote! We need a true leader who will not divide the nation. Democrats and Republicans need to come together and get rid of Donald Trump. We need a president who will not divide and threaten American citizens. Donald Trump isn’t a leader – he is a dictator who subtly and blatantly spreads discord, violence, and racism.
Racism and Health resources/sources:
- Racism and Health: https://apha.org/topics-and-issues/health-equity/racism-and-health
- Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue: https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2019/01/29/law-enforcement-violence
- Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: evidence and interventions by Bailey, Krieger, Agenor, Graves, & Basett, 2017: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014067361730569X
- Racism and health by Williams, Lawrence, and Davis: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040218-043750
- Determinants in Promoting Health and Health Equity: https://www.kff.org/disparities-policy/issue-brief/beyond-health-care-the-role-of-social-determinants-in-promoting-health-and-health-equity/
- Trevor Noah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4amCfVbA_c