I remember being hurt when I was a child and running to my mom, knowing that she would hug me and make it better. If someone at school mistreated me, she would always listen, tell me, "It will get better" and hug me. She was my protector, my healer and comforter. So, when Mr. Floyd cried out for his mom while he was being killed, I understood on a human level why he would call for his mom.
Racism is the most challenging issue facing America today and we must face it and destroy it. And we must do it together. That includes the police officers whose silence is often the biggest problem.
Police must start holding each other accountable. I don’t believe all police are racist; however, it is up to those who are anti-racist to speak out about their fellow officers who are. Police unions must not support or stand by officers who commit acts of terror on our black and brown communities. This should be part of their training.
So, here we are again feeling outrage, frustration, and sadness for Mr. Floyd his family and the impact of racism on black lives. Like COVID-19, racism is often invisible until it becomes lethal. Brown, black and red people are disproportionately affected by it. And black people are more likely to die because of it.
So, what can you do about racism? Raise your children to love people of all races. As a child, my parents would often tell me “There is only one race: the human race." Let your children know what is right and wrong and how to treat people who are different from them. Support those organizations in your community that struggle to end discrimination and fight for justice.
I also believe the media has a responsibility in helping our nation heal from and eradicate racism. Instead of focusing mostly on the violence committed by those whose objective is to disrupt and remove attention from peaceful protests, focus more on the peaceful protest. If cameras were not there to cover some of the violent behavior, would people who seek to “be on TV” still come? Doubtful. The media is sometimes the candle that lights the fire. Why do you think they wait until they know your cameras are there?
Here’s an idea for the media: Show Mr. Floyd’s family and friends and talk with them about his life. Play this repeatedly. Instead of showing countless hours of violence, show countless hours of what people are doing to help end racism all over the world. You have power, so use it wisely. And please drop your slogan “If it bleeds, it leads." You are not only contributing to the pain; you are encouraging it.
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. We will continue to fight for justice and equality.
At YWCA Clark County, you will find a memorial for George Floyd. We welcome your flowers, notes, and other mementos honoring his life.
On Saturday, June 6, we are hosting a Car Rally for Black Lives. We urge you to visit our event page at naacpvancouverwa.org for more information and to register.
I now ask you, will you join us?
Bridgette Fahnbulleh is president of the Vancouver NAACP.