It has now been just over a week since we all first saw the video of George Floyd’s murder and listened to his final, strained words as he struggled to breathe. The video is heart-wrenching and shocking — but at the same time, it tells a story we have seen all too often before.
Next March marks the 30th anniversary of the Rodney King beating. I was a senior in high school at the time. This was long before social media of course, but I remember watching the horrific, grainy black and white video play on a loop on TV. Over and over again. It was good that it played over and over again — because, just like with what happened in Minneapolis last week, we all needed to see it.
The criminal justice system failed Rodney King that night in 1991. Then it failed him again a year later when his assailants were acquitted by a jury. And in the years since, we have seen many more black men and women become victims at the hands of those who were supposed to protect.
Eric Garner was killed by police when trying to break up a fight.
Tamir Rice, just a kid, was playing in the park.
Philando Castile was going to have dinner with his girlfriend.
Botham Jean was at home, sitting on his couch.
Atatiana Jefferson was babysitting her nephew.
Dominique Clayton and Breonna Taylor were both asleep in their beds.
These are just a few. There are many, many more — some names we know and more that we don’t.
Last week, Mr. Floyd’s 2nd grade teacher was interviewed and shared her memories of George. During the interview, she expressed her sadness that he was killed by a police officer. She went on to say:
“As teachers, we teach our children to find helpers when we are in trouble, to find the policeman. I wonder now, as I have been for some years, what do we teach our young black men? Who are the helpers for the young black men?”
When these injustices occur, I can’t help but to think about all those parents who are filled with a constant fear for their own children’s safety.
What can we do to create change?
We can raise our voices in protest to hold bad cops accountable and to combat systemic racism –- both of which are real.
We can encourage and protect the First Amendment rights of those protesting peacefully and with integrity.
We can condemn the actions of those who are taking advantage of this tragic time to loot, destroy and deface, which only serves to distract from real issues.
We can become helpers for the children, men and women who are marginalized and unprotected.
So let’s march, protest and speak out. Most importantly, let’s vote — not just in presidential elections, but also in state and local elections where the decisions affect us more directly and our votes matter even more.
Let’s work hard to ensure George Floyd’s untimely and unjust death was not in vain.
Too many of our communities here in Texas and across our country have been directly impacted by one of these tragedies. We all have a responsibility to do something about the pain and sadness felt by so many. That means using our platforms, our networks and our resources to ensure real, lasting solutions to prevent another inexcusable death like Mr. Floyd’s anywhere in America.