White America Must Stand with Black America for Equal Justice
It is the nonchalance that strikes the conscience as obscene:
Hand on hip, with a knee on his alleged perp’s neck, a white police officer, nonchalantly and unfeelingly, snuffs out the life of yet another black man.
That nonchalance bespeaks the attitude of a certain segment of White America, the segment that crows of its supremacy over all other races. To this segment, Black America and the human beings aggregated therein are — in a word — invisible, the elemental state Ralph Ellison captured in 1952 in his now-classic novel “Invisible Man.” And being invisible — no more than an organism underfoot, not even rising to the level of sentient humanity — justice is absolutely the last thing that organism, face down on the street with a knee on his neck, could expect.
But now: That same nonchalance — of the white officer, hand on hip, snuffing out the life of another black man — has jolted another segment of White America — the conscientious segment — up off the sofa, got its full attention, primed it for action. For you cannot view this ghastly crime unfolding (video reconstruction here) and, if you have any conscience, fail to hear the call to action — for justice.
I am, of course, describing the killing of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department on Monday, May 25 — Memorial Day — the images and sounds of which have reverberated around the nation and the world. Three other officers at the scene, bravehearts all, did nothing to stop the murder (also here).
In reaction, protests have organized, in Minneapolis and more than 140 cities across the country (also here), comprised principally of black Americans called to the streets out of righteous and justifiable anger — with a fair representation of White America also showing up. Yes, in some cities, the protesters were overwhelmed — in number, not in cause — by troublemakers who torched businesses and engaged in looting.
But: No matter how energetically the Demagogue-in-Chief, the current president of the United States, stokes the embers of that looted property for political advantage — “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” — the righteousness of the protesters’ cause — equal justice for Black America vis-à-vis the police and the criminal justice system — must stay at the fore. First order of business, then, for conscientious white Americans is to ensure that this righteous…