Wait before you judge. Take a deep breath. Because you can.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, I’ve seen countless people on social media expressing their rage — not about George’s death or about the underlying problem of inequality in our country — but about looting and physical damage to property.
I don’t support property destruction, but when there is a riot, there is no rule book.
As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “A riot is nothing but the voice of the unheard.”
The death of George Floyd is a horrific loss that has shined a spotlight on the systemic racism present not just in our nation’s police departments, but in our day-to-day lives, in our schools, offices, court systems, and elsewhere. It has highlighted the tension between white and non-white people in the United States. It has offered us a moment to pause and listen to the unheard voices of America — the voices of indigenous women missing and murdered on their own land, indigenous tribes fighting for their water rights (and losing), Hispanics facing the challenges of maintaining their identity and making a living through low-paid jobs, African Americans asking for equality and justice while seeing black boys and girls getting killed by merciless cops.
The reality of being black in America is being born with a target on you. You can’t separate from this target. It follows you wherever you go. Every time you step outside, your target is visible. You’re judged, spat on, called “nigger” time after time. You walk into a store or office and are falsely accused of a crime. You’re subject to traffic stops simply for being in the “wrong” neighborhood, and then you get harassed by the cops.
Once, when I was pulled over, the cop asked me if I was a U.S. citizen even though my driver’s license clearly indicates that I’m a United States veteran. My car tires have been slashed while fly fishing. Once, while I was fishing on Veteran’s Day, my brake lines were ripped out of my truck.