The harsh reality of being black in the US

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 29: New York Police Department (NYPD) officers spray tear gas during a protest in response to the police killing George Floyd in front of Barclays Center on May 29, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Brooklyn joined nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25. Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired after a video taken by a bystander was posted on social media showing Floyd's neck being pinned to the ground by an officer as he repeatedly said, "I cant breathe". Floyd was later pronounced dead while in police custody after being transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. Justin Heiman/Getty Images/AFP
US-PROTESTS-AGAINST-POLICE-BRUTALITY-OVER-DEATH-OF-GEORGE-FLOYD- NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 29: New York Police Department (NYPD) officers spray tear gas during a protest in response to the police killing George Floyd in front of Barclays Center on May 29, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Brooklyn joined nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25. Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired after a video taken by a bystander was posted on social media showing Floyd's neck being pinned to the ground by an officer as he repeatedly said, "I cant breathe". Floyd was later pronounced dead while in police custody after being transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. Justin Heiman/Getty Images/AFP
Image: Justin Heiman/Getty Images/AFP

“Please, please, I can’t breathe.”

Those were the chilling last words uttered by George Floyd, a 46-year-old man from the US who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost eight minutes while he was being handcuffed.

The police were arresting him for allegedly using a fake $20 note in a shop. Floyd’s horrific last moments were captured on camera for the world to see.

For those who were able to sit through the video, you would have seen a man in pain, desperate for the officer to lift his knee.

But Floyd stood no chance.

Had he tried to fight back and forcefully push the officer off him because he was battling to breathe, we would in all likelihood be talking about yet another unarmed black man shot by the US police on camera.

That is the harsh reality of living as a black person in the US. Men, especially, are dealt with barbarically, like second-rate citizens by the very institution that is meant to protect Americans.

“He’d be alive today if he were white,” Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey told news outlets, and that is the gist of the problem in the US.

Police brutality and racism are the lived reality of black and Hispanic communities in America.

Four officers were arrested almost immediately. But it is not enough.

There must be justice for Floyd and the countless other African American men and women who have died senselessly at the hands of the police.

Floyd’s death has sparked a series of protests and demonstrations across Minnesota as civic society demands justice, equality and the fair treatment of all Americans.

May their efforts spark a wave of change so desperately needed in the US.

May Floyd’s death — and the countless others before him — not be in vain.

 

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