“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe”- Frederick Douglass
On May 25, the world witnessed the execution of Mr. George Floyd. Yes, an execution. I’m calling it like I see it.
When I first saw the hashtag, #GeorgeFloyd, pop up on my Twitter, I cringed at clicking on it, seeing what it’s about, because I knew it could be nothing but bad news.
It’s sad that the first thought that comes to our minds when we see the hashtag of a Black man’s name trending is death. But that is our reality.
His death sparked another wave of revolutionary uprising that has started to characterize my millennial generation.
Coronavirus and the pandemic were an afterthought this past weekend across the country as millions took to the streets to not only protest the execution of George Floyd, but also the continued injustice against African Americans, specifically our Black men.
In Tampa, my hometown, peaceful protesting erupted into angry riots. Looters ransacked everything from Walmart and Target to a local hair store and small business establishments.
A Mobil gas station and Champs shoe store were set on fire; the parking lot of a mall near the University of South Florida became a near-battle zone Saturday night as canisters of gas were deployed to keep people from breaking inside.
Several officers were assaulted, police cars were vandalized, and dozens more were arrested.
Whatever it takes
As a young African American woman whose first real exposure to the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #NoJusticeNoPeace was when I heard the 911 audio recording of 17-year-old Trayvon yelling for help in a Sanford suburb before he was murdered (yes, murdered) by George Zimmerman.
We have tried being nice. Look at Colin Kaepernick. We’ve been being peaceful for over 50 years. Look at the Civil Rights Movement. And when peace didn’t work, some tried to take matters into our hands. Look at the Black Panther Party.
Floyd could have been my father, cousin, brother-in-law, or friend. He could have easily been my toddler nephew or a future son I could have.
Sure, we can fire them, arrest them, but none of this matters if there is no just conviction, leaving the possibility of what happened to Floyd and so many others, to happen again. that’s why we’re mad.
Floyd hits differently
Not since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 have we seen this sort of universal solidarity on a common cause. Protesting for George Floyd is taking place all over the world, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Ireland, Australia, Iran, and Brazil.
For one of the first times here in the U.S, we’re seeing police officers breaking their blue code and standing by protestors. Latinos, who have segregated themselves from our issues, are on the frontline with us.
Whites, who can no longer afford to turn the other cheek, are using their platforms and privilege to speak up. They’re finally realizing that all lives don’t matter if Black lives do not.
After Dr. King was assassinated, 110 cities in the U.S. rioted, including the notorious 1968 Detroit riots, which paved the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to be signed.
How many more videos do we need to see? How many more buildings need to be burned? How long do we have to protest before we can get absolute justice for George Floyd?Ahmaud Arbery? Breonna Taylor? And new to the list, David McActee.
McActee was a Louisville barbecue shop owner who was shot and killed by police on Monday, while reportedly trying to protect his niece. Two of the officers
involved in the shooting did not have their body cameras activated.
No vaccine yet
I’m pretty sure that when our grandparents marched and were beaten, murdered and brutalized for us during the Civil Rights Movement, and even our ancestors following the Reconstruction era, they did not expect us to be fighting the same fight they were fighting then.
Actor George Clooney penned it perfectly in his essay published by The Daily Beast. Clooney wrote, “This is our pandemic. It infects all of us, and in 400 years we’ve yet to find a vaccine.”
Where I live in Tampa, African Americans’ tolerance of ignorance is at a low. This week, with the power of social media, we forced the stepping down of a co-owner of a popular downtown Tampa restaurant and bar, Franklin Manor, after racial comments he made about protestors via social media.
Needless to say, that establishment will no longer be receiving my business or any other Black person’s in this area.
Proud of us
On Tuesday, Black and White businesses and influencers did their part and participated in #BlackOutTuesday, a silent solidarity moment to pause our normal, self-indulged social media activities and use the day to get involved in the community, spread awareness and educate.
Peaceful protesting by the local Black Lives Matter group and other community activists are taking place every day in various parts of the cities.
Although I dread the possibility of seeing another video showing the senseless murder of another Black man or woman and I hate that we continue to fight for injustice and racial equality, I’m proud of us as a people.
It is my prayer this particular uprising will be the start of a new beginning.
Alexia McKay is an editorial assistant for the Florida Courier. She’s also the publisher and editor-in-chief of RoyalTee Magazine, a quarterly publication for millennial, minority entrepreneurs and influencers. Find more of her content at royalteemagazine.com.