We are jolted into remembering that we too have been victims of the same white privilege and it may not be long before one of our own may be the next George Floyd, writes Minoo Shah
On May 25, George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight by Derek Chauvin. Officer Derek was abetted by three other officers of the Minneapolis Police. The world has now seen the aftermath. Riots rampant, buildings burnt, businesses looted. There have been protest marches the world over in solidarity with the Black Community and USA mourns… for the time being!
As is usual in such cases, a rhetoric starts on both sides. So to put in perspective, let’s analyse a few significant details.
Derek Chauvin and George Floyd worked at the same Latino nightclub. Per Santamaria, the owner, Derek has a short fuse and zero tolerance. This nightclub was primarily patronised by Black people. Did Derek’s aversion to the Black race progress slowly to hatred during his 17 years at the club? Did he exercise his white privilege with derision towards African Americans?
The one glaring fact is that Derek’s wife has filed for divorce and requested to change her last name. When she speaks up, we will have a further insight into Derek’s character.
George Floyd had a criminal background for petty theft, armed robbery, larceny and served time. He worked in the porn business after having to leave his hometown of Houston, Texas. He was about as shady as they come. On Memorial Day – May 31, 2020, George tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store named Cup Foods. He resisted arrest and was eventually subdued and killed.
His brother who worked at the same nightclub said he was looked upon by the patrons as a gentle giant. Santamaria corroborated this story. The Arabic owner of Cup Foods who is paying for George Floyd’s funeral regrets making that call to the police.
If it weren’t for the fact that hate crimes are on the rise in USA or that lynching is not a thing of the too distant past, we could rationalise the above facts and determine that the police were doing their job albeit a bit too seriously. But the sad truth in the America we live in today is that there have been far too many Black people killed by the police. Black people have tried to seek justice lawfully, non-violently, peacefully but to no avail because the injustices continue. They are the targeted few and they see no hope so they try to be heard. Theirs is the lot of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Unfortunately, they are subjected to this guilty-until-proved-innocent attitude by many other migrant communities too. Migrant Indians being no exception. I have been privy to this underveiled hatred amongst our community too. Gujaratis, Punjabis, Bengalis, South Indians, etc. are all guilty of discriminating against the Black community. May be because racism/ caste system is ingrained within us. All our lives, this type of thinking has been justified and we have passed it on to the coming generations sometimes deliberately, sometimes with our actions and otherwise subliminally. This holds true for Latinos, Pacific Islanders and South East Asians.
However, George Floyd’s murder has somehow shaken the ground beneath all of us. We are jolted into remembering that we too have been victims of the same white privilege and it may not be long before one of our own may be the next George Floyd.
Is it time to pull our heads out of the sand? Is it time to stand in solidarity with those persecuted? No one has a crystal ball so the time is now to lose that laissez-faire attitude. The time is now to speak up. Err on the side of right and say to take a human life is wrong! The undeniable fact is that bystanders witnessed a white police officer kill a black man in cold blood. Let the echo of the dying man’s shrieks calling out to his dead mother while we did nothing be a testament of what we are as a society today.
Do we still want this conversation to be about the aftermath that followed the coldblooded killing?
George Floyd will be buried in Houston, Texas on Friday June 5, 2020 and heads bowed in shame, we will observe silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.