George Floyd & What We can Learn About Empathy Even When it Doesn’t Affect Us
“I’m tired of seeing dead bodies that look like me,” tweeted Derek Minor last night. “Tired” was the sentiment I heard from many black brothers and sisters throughout the day after a horrific video depicting the death of George Floyd was released. The footage showed a police officer kneeling on the neck of this unarmed black man. His crime – allegedly using forged documents at a deli. His sentence – death.
*I’m only going to apologize for one thing in this article and that’s for breaking the wall of journalism and giving you MY opinion. I strongly dislike inserting my opinion into national news, but I’m going to do my best not to sensationalize or politicize this conversation.*
Circling back to Derek’s statement – you know what? I’m tired too, but if I’m tired, then my friends must be exhausted. I’ve never had the opportunity to walk a mile in a black man’s shoes, but I tell you what, I bet they wouldn’t be comfortable.
Almost every week I read countless Tweets, posts, and messages from people I highly respect, people I do life with – that are grieving and heartbroken. I’ve had conversations on the phone with grown men crying and tearing up, ripped apart by the loss of life. I’ve seen the strongest men of faith shaken, fragile, and gripped with depression and fear that they, their wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, or children may be next.
I myself, along with my wife, and both my children are of mixed race. We are half white/ half Hispanic. You see my last name, my skin tone, and make an assumption about me – I’m white. The only thing that separates me from one of my almost black cousins is the color of our skin. We grew up in the same families, played with the same toys, hugged the same Puerto Rican born Spanish speaking grandparents – and yet, I’ll never know what it’s like to be like them.
I stare at my son and my daughter and know that with almost 100% certainty that their everyday life is probably going to be okay. I can’t say the same for the children of some of my black friends who may be better men, better fathers, and overall better people than me. And that doesn’t sit well with me. It’s a helpless feeling to not be able to help someone who needs it and there’s literally nothing you can do but listen and pray others do too. But this isn’t about me, this is about yet another public execution of an African American man broadcast as violence porn for the entire world to view over and over.
George Floyd’s life has been reduced to nothing more than an uncomfortable footnote of a news story that has people chanting “Black Lives Matter” until the next time this happens.
So let me answer some questions and statements before you ask them.
“We don’t know the full story.” You’re right, we don’t, but we know enough of it to know that two people walked away unharmed and one didn’t. One of these people is dead because of the direct actions taken against him.
“He committed a crime.” Yes, allegedly he did. A non-violent crime that he was not tried or even convicted for.” Remember, we’ve seen mass shooters removed peacefully from situations. We’ve watched rapists receive empathy because their college career was over.
“Why did he resist arrest?” How do you know he did it? A new video would indicate that was not the case, but I’ll bite, were the people with weapons scared for their lives? Is resisting arrest akin to a murder conviction? Once restrained, is it necessary to keep inflicting harm?
“He was just doing his job.” Does your on job training require you to kneel on someone until their breath is gone with multiple people screaming, “get off him” or “you’re killing him!”
“You don’t know what it’s like to be a cop.” I don’t, just like I don’t know what it’s like to be black or to be a woman or what it’s like to kill someone. However, what I can do is empathize with someone’s death. I can see when people let pride, arrogance, authority, or dare I say racist ideologies get to their heads. I’ll never know what I’d do at that moment, but I’d like to think it would not be that.
I can fully respect an officer, his importance in the community, but I should also be able to say, “You messed up.” I know plenty of great cops doing wonderful things in communities. Some of these men and women are in my family. All cops are not racist and all are not killers, but guess what? In this video clip, it appears the cop is at least one of these things.
“Stop with the Liberal anti-church propaganda.” There is nothing political here. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. It’s not even a Christian or not a Christian issue. This is valuing someone’s life over a death issue. If you’re going to be pro-life and All Lives Matter, then this one did too. If you are going march for the sanctity of life, then yeah, what about this one? Blue Lives Matter just as much as Black ones but right now we’re not talking about Blue ones right now.
You are going to read propaganda all day. Tomorrow an article will probably come out talking about how George Floyd had a laundry list of crimes or this and that. But I’ll offer you some “alternative facts” that you can propagate.
Floyd was a man of peace.
I knew #GeorgeFloyd personally. So, the media can’t tell me nothing. When we did community outreach in the hood he was a “person of peace”. He wanted to see us come together as a people. They murdered him in the street. You see why #BlackLivesMatter has to be stated. This hurt 😢 pic.twitter.com/uwAH1ygiQX
— Corey Paul (@CoreyPaulMusic) May 26, 2020
— Corey Paul (@CoreyPaulMusic) May 27, 2020
Share this about “Big Floyd” before they change the narrative! The man that helped me drag a baptism pool to the court in the projects so we could baptize dudes in the hood. The man that helped put down & clean up chairs at outreaches in the hood. A man of peace! A good man. https://t.co/iwKyc1j7Es
— RECONCILE (@ReconcileUs) May 27, 2020
— Corey Paul (@CoreyPaulMusic) May 27, 2020
I’m going to deviate from that list of talking points and share some “helpful tweets” nobigdyl. and Young Noah got from Christians trying to exemplify God.
imagine seeing a man strangled to death by someone sworn to protect + serve + then typing this pic.twitter.com/FHGOjygBkd
— dyllie (@nobigdyl) May 27, 2020
— Young Noah (@realyoungnoah) May 27, 2020
Lastly, this Tweet:
I honestly don’t care anymore. I’m about to log off before I get myself in trouble tho. Enjoy your comfortable, non racist America, where everyone is treated equal and black people are delusional because there has to be a rational explanation besides race for our deaths.
— Derek Minor (@thederekminor) May 27, 2020
This is one day after a false 911 phone call made in NYC about a “threatening Black Man.” This is just weeks after Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and killed.
Almost every day we suffer a tragedy whether it be a school shooting, a church shooting, racism, injustice, attacks left and right and the only answer we have is “thoughts and prayers.” It’s time people of faith get up from their safety net of prayer and put into action the teachings of Jesus. “Do unto others,” “love one another,” and on and on. If you have to turn over some tables and cast out the wicked, what’s stopping you? If you have to touch a leper or speak to a Samaritan, what’s stopping you?
All-day we are inundated by talking heads telling us what to believe. I’m doing it in this article right now. I’m urging you, whoever that might be to stop thinking you know the answers and start asking important questions. Learn from one another. Listen to leaders in a space which by the way, doesn’t mean the most decorated ones. You can learn more from people living a situation with “rough” language than someone with a fancy degree who speaks like a pastor or politician. Grieve with those who grieve, rejoice with those with joy, but everything in its season. You are entitled to your opinions but sometimes they need to be kept to yourself while others can process their own.
Our blood is all red but we all don’t bleed the same. I don’t expect others to understand what hurts me, but I want them to give me the decency of believing my tears are real and saying, “How can I help you?” If my house is on fire and I called the fire department and you said, “All houses matter!” or “He’s always complaining his house is on fire, let it burn,” how can any lives be saved? How can any communities grow? How can we stop this from becoming just another footnote in a long line of traumatic experiences?
Our friends, brothers, sisters, mentors, fellow humans are grieving and tired. Can we give them rest?