I thought I was handling the stresses brought about by the Coronavirus, the murder of George Floyd, the protest marches, and my memories of my past hurts and fears. Today, I tuned in to CNN’s show, “Coming Together: Standing up to Racism: A CNN/ Sesame Street Town Hall.” I listened to children ask questions about racism—what is it, why does it happen, how can you stop it, how should we treat each other, if I become a neurosurgeon, “can I operate on the brain’s of racists”and fix it—and questions from parents about how to talk to our children about racism and white privilege. I finally started crying.
Today, I have to admit that at 71 years old, I am still traumatized and in pain. Today, I am so sad that we are still being harmed by racism. Due to unequal access to healthcare throughout the years, Blacks are disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus. George Floyd, who tested positive for the Coronavirus, survived the illness; but he did not survive the economic impact of Coronavirus. He was laid off from his job as a club bouncer because all restaurants in Minnesota were shut down due to the virus. I doubt that the $1200 check generated by the CARES Act of 2020 did much to alleviate Mr. Floyd’s financial stresses.
Due to racism, Blacks are more likely to be treated harshly by police officers. George Floyd was murdered by police officers who responded to a merchant’s call complaining that a customer paid for items with a counterfeit $20 bill. Today, as I listened to the questions from the children on the CNN/Sesame Street program, I was overwhelmed by the vision of the police officer pressing down on George Floyd’s neck with his knee. George Floyd, as has often been the case for blacks in this country, was arrested, presumed guilty and executed on the spot. The children could not understand this. Neither could I. I could not stop crying.
I helped “integrate” a high school in 1965…I tried to educate white people in my work circle and social circles…I marched…I voted…I made phone calls for candidates…I gave my children the TALK…I tried to teach my children to live well in an unjust world…I tried to teach my children to love themselves and to know that they were created in the image of God. Yet, children called in today to the CNN/Sesame Street TownHall with questions about racism in the year 2020 in the United States. I could not stop crying.
As I listened to the children on the CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall, I thought back to the many years of struggle for survival of my ancestors, the struggle for equality, the struggle for success, the struggle for an education, the struggle to own one’s own body, the struggle to own one’s own children, the struggle to vote for those who pass and enforce laws that govern our lives, the struggle to be paid for the works of our hands, the struggle to patent and reap the financial rewards for our inventions, the struggle to fight for this country, the struggle for life, the struggle for liberty, the struggle to pursue happiness. I could not stop crying.
George Floyd cried out for his Mama. I am crying out for my ancestors. I am crying out for myself. I am crying out for my children. I am crying out for George Floyd.