No U-turns Allowed: Ending Racism is a One-Way Street

George Floyd’s death – whether you believe it was murder or not – has taken us down a one-way street where no U-turns are allowed.

For years, centuries, Black America has been shouting from the rooftops about racism. We’ve been kicking, screaming, begging, praying, marching, and kneeling about police brutality. But nobody seemed to be listening until now.

So, what happened? 

COVID-19 happened. 

I bet you thought I was going to say George Floyd’s death happened. You wouldn’t be wrong, but you also wouldn’t be completely right. George Floyd is only one of many unarmed Black men who has been murdered by police officers. But never has there been this outcry across the nation, across races, across genders, across generations, across ethnicities, across … You get the idea.

We are here today at this moment, at the beginning of this revolution because of COVID-19.

Yes COVID-19.

But for COVID-19 George Floyd’s murder would have been just another news story like the countless other unarmed black Men that were murdered by police.

White America, well some of white America, would have clutched their pearls or averted their eyes on their way out the door to live their lives. Just as they’d done some many other times before.

But not this time. Nope. COVID-19 made sure that didn’t happen.

COVID-19 made sure we were sitting still. That we had nowhere to go and nothing else to do but be glued to our TVs, phones, social media or wherever we got our news.

COVID-19 made sure that we all sat and watched for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as George Floyd called out for his dead “mama” knowing he’d soon be with her. We watched as he faded into silence under the knee of a man whose callousness and indifference were on display for the world to see.

That visual. His cries for help. The absolute callousness of those officers was etched in our brains and our collective memories as it was played over and over again from every possible angle. COVID-19 made sure that you saw it all. That you couldn’t turn away. That you couldn’t sweep it under the rug. That you had to account to yourself and others whether this level of brutality visited upon a Black man was acceptable, as the others seem to have been. Whether you could “justify” or “ignore” the unarmed killing of this Black man.

You, White America – not just black people, had to feel the pain. You had to see it. You had to experience it. You could not look away. That forced exposure is why we are here. It’s not our good conscience. If it were, we would have been collectively outraged a long time ago.

No, it was your experiencing it and it being brought into your home and you having to answer your children’s questions about what they were seeing and hearing. You see, because no matter how hot we’ve been telling you the stove is, until you touch it yourself, you really never know. Well now you’ve touched the hot stove. You’ve gotten burned. That burn is the pain of racism. That burn is everyday life for Black people.

The question now is, what are you going to do to heal the burn – yours and those of your fellow Black human beings?

Will you work diligently to erase this from your consciousness? Are you going to just continue to ignore it and hope it heals itself? Or are you going to sit in this discomfort and do everything in your power to make sure you and Black people heal and eradicate the burn of racism.

Remember, the burn may heal but the scars remain. Thus, healing alone won’t fix it.

We can no longer ignore the reality of racism.

We must take this one-way road on a journey to healing and rectification.

When George Floyd was murdered many of you joined in the cries for justice. Those cries were loud and constant as we traveled together down that one-way street.

But it seems now that some of you have stopped for gas, run out of gas, or are contemplating turning around. Ending racism is a journey, a very long journey. It’s okay to take a break to refuel. But we can’t stop, and we can’t turn around.

Black people don’t have the privilege of stopping or turning around. We don’t have the privilege of contemplating whether to continue.

This one-way street is our road to true freedom. The freedom to run, live, breathe, play, sleep, work, drive, shop, just damn well be, without being murdered, disrespected, dehumanized, because of the color of our skin.

So, if you’re screaming, marching, posting, and crying wasn’t merely an act of self-protection and you’re truly committed to this fight to end racism, then you know what to do.

Fill up your tank!

Buckle up!

And let’s ride!

No U-turns allowed.