“Freedom is like religion to us
Justice is juxtapositionin’ us
Justice for all just ain’t specific enough
One son died, his spirit is revisitin’ us”
-“Glory” by Common and John Legend
It’s absolutely providential that George Perry Floyd Jr., was murdered by a white police officer on Memorial Day in 2020. Though not killed in war while serving his country, he was killed in an ongoing American war against Black people – a war that physically murders and metaphorically kills the potential and life outcomes of countless descendants of enslaved Africans in America.
We owe Mr. Floyd an eternity of gratitude, as when he died, he opened our eyes to the preponderance of police brutality and wanton racial injustice in our country. It saddens and angers me that Mr. Floyd’s life and his death epitomizes the legacy and present-day consequences of ignorance, hatred, violence, racism and injustice against millions of people just like him and those he represents. And make no mistake, hatred is hatred, racism is racism, injustice is injustice and violence is violence no matter who is perpetrating it.
This is clear in the persistent and unjust economic and educational castration of low-income people in our community. It is also evident in the string of tragic and violent incidents that occurred this month: There was the white 18-year old who murdered ten innocent victims in Buffalo simply because of their skin color. In addition, there were 21 people who were gunned down in Milwaukee, many who were Black, during an inhumane and reckless mass shooting after a basketball game. Don’t forget about the five Taiwanese church-goers who were also shot, with one killed, by an armed gunman . And of course, in my neighborhood of North Minneapolis, where two men, one who died a hero trying to protect others, were shot and killed just two blocks from where I was celebrating a friend’s birthday.
So, out of respect for George Floyd’s life and death, how shall we respond? What shall we do? I think the path forward is clear but nuanced. First we must re-commit to spending the rest of our lives bringing about racial justice, equity, love, and mutuality. We do this by first learning our shared history, along with our individual and collective roles in our present-day situation. Then, we must also dedicate ourselves to pursuing justice without dehumanizing those we vehemently disagree with. While anger is healthy, we must refrain from participating in verbal and emotional violence. Ours must be a non-violent movement of the heart where we seek to listen, to alwaysbe curious, to understand, and to be heard. And finally, we have to know that there is no, “us versus them.” There is only “Us.” It will take all of “us” to realize lasting economic, public safety, health, and educational equity and justice through our individual actions, as well as, systems and policy change. Part of that change must be our continued demand for transformed policing AND enough police (along with other supports) to keep our communities safe. But as in the case of policing, there are no simple, “either/or” solutions to these complex issues. Our strategy must be, “both/and.”
Finally, in remembering George Perry Floyd Jr, may we take the words of the song, “Glory,” to heart. May we never stop hoping that one day glory will be ours– that the glory of justice, equity, peace, and love, will be a reality throughout our land- for ALL. And that standing shoulder to shoulder, “we’ll fight on to the finish, then when it’s all done, We’ll cry glory, oh glory!”
NAZ CEO + President