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This week millions of viewers watched in horror video footage of the last minutes of the life of George Floyd. As the week progressed, news footage turned to the response on the streets of Minneapolis where organized protests eventually devolved into rioting and looting. The frustration and anger over the killing of yet another unarmed Black man within months of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor has led to protests in cities across the nation.
Martin Luther King Jr said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” When coverage of the events of this week pivots to political sniping, our attention should remain focused on the root problem. In this country, we have an underlying social structure tainted by racism.
The nineteenth century saw the battle to end slavery. The twentieth century saw the enactment of the suffrage act, granting women the right to vote, and the struggle for recognition of the basic civil rights of all people, culminating in legislation outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Our challenge for the twenty-first century is defining what we can do as a society to celebrate and love people for who they are. Former president Barack Obama said in a recent statement, “… it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr