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We have to do better

Let’s call it what it was: murder.

What everybody saw when they watched the video of George Floyd dying was plain murder.

It was not restraining him to gain control, even if he was resisting arrest at first.

It was not a split-second decision made as an officer was in fear of his life or the lives of others, as the justification often goes in many officer-involved shootings.

No. That officer never needed to fire his weapon to kill George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. He simply put a knee on his neck and remained there for nearly nine minutes until the life drained out of the human body beneath him.

Two other officers held other parts of Floyd’s body down while a fourth kept watch and defended their actions to concerned bystanders.

It was depraved, it was wicked, and it was sinful. Everybody who watched the bystander’s video and listened to Mr. Floyd plead for his life should be sickened at the inhumanity.

What’s in that video is undeniable. It’s unjustifiable. Unlike in a shooting incident, the officer on Mr. Floyd’s neck had approximately 480 seconds to rethink his horrific crime. And he chose to steal another person’s life every second along the way.

This particular murder is remarkable for the amount of civilian video footage available that made all the horrific details available to the public so soon. But unfortunately, it is unremarkable in that it is yet another black man who died senselessly at the hands of a white person.

Everybody in America should be outraged about this. And all of us white people need to start speaking up on behalf of our brothers and sisters who look different from us. It is the fear of people who look different, and what we’ve been taught — either explicitly or implicitly — that means, that leads to incidents like George Floyd’s death.

I know the term “white privilege” can be a tinderbox, but I’ve come to understand it in recent years, and I want all of my fellow white folks to take note. It doesn’t mean you did anything to earn it or deserve it. It doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard in other ways. But it does mean that you’ll never be treated differently because of the color of your skin. And it also means that people may listen if you speak up.

There are many things you can do, but if you listen to and amplify the voices of people of color, that is a good first start. We shouldn’t place the burden on them to tell us how they feel or what they’ve experienced, but many of them are doing so already. Share their Facebook posts and blogs. Read books by them and share your recommendations with your white friends, particularly those who may not be as inclined to listen otherwise. Speak up against those racist statements or jokes your family and friends make. When you find yourself thinking something about someone just because of the color of their skin, stop and examine that falsehood and pledge to do better.

There is lots more that you can do, but there’s not a lot of room here. All I’m asking you to do is to start.

“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” — Micah 6:8