America began its’ latest racial justice divide with the killing of Trayvon Martin. In the dark, alone, and taking his last breaths, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin felt his life ebb from his body due to a gunshot from his killer, George Zimmerman. From that moment, America began a game of choosing up sides, and unfortunately, justice took a backseat to race once again. Most of us would agree a 17-year-old armed with a can of iced tea and a bag of candy is innocuous, but to his detriment, on the night of February 26, 2012, the young Martin was walking while black. Breonna Taylor met her death in her home, in her underwear. Renisha McBride made two mistakes in the early morning hours of November 2, 2013, drunkenly crashing her car in the wrong neighborhood and knocking on the door of a white man for help. Moments later, the young black female lay dying from a shotgun blast.
Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis, Sean Bell, Aiyana Jones, Oscar Grant III, and…I could continue naming names and describing their killings, but the point is made, it is dangerous to be young, old, male or female, and black in America. Black skin is enough for instant killing by so many in our society; even a disabled, mentally disturbed elderly woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in 1984 died in a pool of blood after being shot to death by the police in her apartment.
Currently, three prominent trials have the nation gripped, debating justice, fear, and race; Kenosha, Wisconsin, Brunswick, Georgia, and Charlottesville, Virginia. The first involves the shooting deaths of two white men and the grievous wounding of a third protesting the shooting and paralyzing of a young black man, Jacob Blake. Second, the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was jogging while black, and lastly, in Virginia, the 1871 KKK Act is the lynchpin for a race-based theory of a violent conspiracy that led to the death of Heather Heyer and injuries to numerous others.
The death of George Perry Floyd Jr. was long, lingering, and torturous. Unlike Eric Garner, who also died on camera, the latter was only a few minutes. His killers were not convicted, unlike former police officer Derek Chauvin. It may be wild speculation, but maybe it was easy to dismiss the other deaths by white nationalists, racists, and the police because they were hidden for the most part. Not seeing death at the hands of anxious citizens and overzealous police are easier to excuse. We did not see the anguish on Trayvon Martin’s face or the gasping for a breath by Renisha McBride, or the confusion of mentally disabled Eleanor Bumpurs. They were anonymous black faces which some segments of society would say must be guilty of something. An example of that may be Travis McMichael, who admitted on the stand during cross-examination that Mr. Arbery never threatened him in words or deeds or that he saw him commit a crime. His “assumption” a black man running must be guilty of something.
As hard as it may be to contemplate the slow death of Mr. Floyd, moaning in pain, begging for relief, and finally reduced to calling out to his momma, it may have been enough satisfaction even for the most hard-hearted. The revelation of his torment called for a public sacrifice. We will see if Travis and Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan, who filmed the hunt of Mr. Arbery, have enough, long, lingering, and torturous video evidence to convict them.
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