Black Lives Matter is an international movement originating within the African-American community. It began in 2013 with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social networks, following George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the shooting death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin. However, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of white police officers once again exposed an issue that still haunts us in 2020.
Not only in Minneapolis do the police use force against black men and women, but in much of the country as well. What happened with Floyd, a horrible event that took place in the public streets, once again exposed the state’s consent to endorse racism for centuries. Between 1896 and 1954, more than 4,000 African Americans were victims of lynching. Throughout American history, the police have assumed the role of judge, jury and executioner.
The list of all the Black men and women who died at the hands of the police force (and ultimately the state) is immense. From colonization, where the caste and racial segregation system was the basis of society, economy and politics, to the 21st century, African Americans live in fear of not returning home.
So there is a structural racism that works 24/7 and that no state dares to really change. Despite the fact that the United States is the epicenter of progress, with advanced technology in matters of surveillance and security (a kind of Big Brother of Orson Welles), there is a poverty and precariousness that contrasts terribly.
In addition, the latest demonstrations have exposed another mismanagement of American cities. In the majority, the budget is allocated to the prisons, which consume a large percentage of the income, which means that there is less money for social issues, such as assistance in the poorest neighbourhoods, many of which have a large number of African-Americans, who are neglected and ignored by the State.
What happened with George Floyd’s death left several things to be analyzed, on the one hand, the strength of unity of the entire communities that came out to demonstrate. Especially in a context like the current one marked by the COVID-19, which is leaving an appalling death toll in the United States.
On the other hand, it also left a record of the ineffectiveness of the police force, which in many cases used extreme and excessive methods of repression to attack the demonstrators and the media.
But it also left a glimpse of light, hope and change. Some media showed police kneeling with the protesters, which was a great show of unity and progress.
What all this leaves me thinking is… how many more deaths are going to be needed for the country to change?
How many George Floyd’s will it take for the state to really take action to bring about a society where the rights of all are respected and where the killers are tried and convicted?