George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Andres Guardado.
For months this summer time, these Black and brown faces regarded out on us from the boarded-up home windows of companies in Venice, spray-painted on plywood and awaiting riots that by no means got here. Every day, they reminded us — as if we may neglect — of the trauma that police brutality inflicted upon our nation this yr.
That these pictures of the useless at the moment are gone, discarded with the plywood as life has hobbled again towards regular, serves as a reminder, too: Turning a second right into a motion is tough, however not half as onerous as sustaining it.
Taking to the streets in opposition to police brutality and racial injustice in early June appeared like a pure response to the searing video of Floyd. What moral, empathic human being wouldn’t stand up in anger after watching this Black man die on a Minneapolis sidewalk, his neck underneath the knee of a white cop who couldn’t have cared much less about Floyd’s pleas for assist? Who wouldn’t take a knee in solidarity after listening to Floyd cry out for his mom together with his remaining breaths whereas three different cops casually stood by and watched?
True, Floyd was hardly the primary Black man — or lady or little one, for that matter — we’ve watched die in a viral video, killed by somebody with a badge for what usually looks as if the flimsiest of causes. He’s not the final both. It’s simply that some individuals determined way back to not look. Police brutality, and the white supremacy that has each enabled it and guarded it, endures.
But Floyd’s dying — and this yr — have been completely different.
In the weeks earlier than that terrible Memorial Day in Minneapolis, efforts to gradual a surge of coronavirus instances had shut down a lot of the nation, significantly the nook of it that’s California. For as soon as, even essentially the most privileged had few distractions — no dinner events, no basketball video games or buying excursions. People have been sitting at house in entrance of their computer systems and televisions, bored and stressed.
So that video of Floyd? Everyone had to look. And many additionally felt they needed to act, not simply due to the blatant cruelty and injustice, but additionally due to what had occurred to Taylor in Louisville, Ky., to Guardado in Gardena and to so many different Black and brown victims of police.
The ensuing protests persevered for weeks, held not simply in city facilities, however in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and different rich enclaves throughout the nation. They have been gloriously various and typically appallingly harmful. And they meant that, for as soon as, individuals with energy had to hearken to individuals with out it. It meant that Gov. Gavin Newsom had to talk up, acknowledging the failure of presidency to really “tear out” institutional racism. And it meant that the Los Angeles City Council had to take a step towards, if not defunding the police, at the least lowering the once-sacrosanct price range of the division.
It was the well-prepared founders of Black Lives Matter, together with Californians Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, who’re most accountable for turning what may have merely been a second of rage right into a months-long motion. They helped rework the general public dialog from a reckoning over policing to 1 over systemic racism in healthcare, schooling, housing, employment, media and politics.
They and activists from throughout America are why President-elect Joe Biden felt he had to select a Black lady to be his operating mate. And why Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, in her acceptance speech, had to speak about what it is going to take to maintain this mass multicultural motion for Black lives. Even when all of the reminders are gone.
“There is no vaccine for racism. We’ve gotta do the work,” stated Harris, who can also be South Asian. “For George Floyd. For Breonna Taylor. For the lives of too many others to name. For our children. For all of us. We’ve gotta do the work to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law. Because none of us are free, until all of us are free.”