Let’s Just Be Clear…E. Faye Williams, Esq. / June 11, 2020
Eight minutes and Forty-Six seconds. In every generation there are seminal events that alter the outcomes of the future. As I reflect on the events of the last two weeks, I am struck by the instances of humanity and inhumanity that have been demonstrated for all to see. Although they join a, seemingly endless list of African Americans who have fallen victim to blatant racism and deranged policing, I am sure that the names Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd will be indelibly linked to a new revolution in this era of U.S. History. I believe the events surrounding the savage disregard and premature ending of their lives will serve as a catalyst for a new awakening in the American experience.
This awakening will, of course, be resisted and challenged. Those paying attention have already heard the nitpicking and fault finding of the naysayers who wish to fortify and buttress the status quo of unchallenged mistreatment and brutalization of people of color. Over their electronic platforms, these naysayers have already attempted to diminish the legitimacy of protests against the violence that was directed against George Floyd, specifically, and against African Americans and people of color, generally. They vainly attempt to associate the destruction and looting of a small group of criminals to the broader issue of systemic racial discrimination and violence. They confuse and attempt conjoin RIOT with REVOLUTION.
Those who number among my regular readers know that to reduce misinterpretation of my statements or to limit my intent to the boundaries of the understanding of some readers, I often provide definitions. I do so again. RIOT: a disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons acting together in a disrupting and tumultuous manner in carrying out their private purposes. REVOLUTION: an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed. I offer to those willing to “SEE” that these two dynamics are in opposition in their intent and objectives.
I’ve lived long enough to observe that most Americans will ignore those events that don’t impact them directly. This has proved chiefly true when it comes to how White Americans view their darker counterparts. During the 50’s and 60’s, most White Americans were willing to ignore the recurring horrors inflicted upon African Americans, especially those performed in the South. It was not until they saw, through the medium of television, the dogs, water hoses, and the vicious beatings administered by the police that they felt the pangs of guilt. Until they viewed the mangled remains of the 16th Street Baptist Church and learned of the death of four little Black girls, few thoughts were given to the lives of Black children in Birmingham, Alabama.
Now we are presented with a video of four rogue policemen who, in the space of eight minutes and forty-six seconds, choke the life out of a man who was on the ground, handcuffed, and submissive. That visual of a man lamenting, “I can’t breathe” and calling to his deceased “momma” just before dying has inspired a revolutionary spirit to correct such atrocities. “GEORGE FLOYD” has become a revolutionary rallying cry throughout the U.S. and in many parts of the world where discriminatory and oppressive behaviors are entrenched.
Those of us who fight for necessary systemic change should not grow comfortable. Our job, beyond the push for change, is to keep focus on our goals and opposition. These past two weeks have also shown that forces exist that oppose the Constitutional guarantees we enjoy. Our demands for systemic change will be met with great resistance. Our resolve must exceed their resistance.
Dr. E. Faye Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Visit: www.nationalcongressbw.org.