An open letter to my white neighbors in Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Recently, I conducted a Google search for George Floyd. In the top 2 or 3 of what Google calls its “auto-complete predictions” was a prediction that I might search for “George Floyd criminal record”. Google tells us they gather and display these predictions by looking at among other things, my location.
This was telling as I also recently understood second hand that there have been conversations in our community about George Floyd’s criminal record as justification for his murder. The suggestion was that white allies should at least be less sympathetic to the cause of Black Lives Matter.
In America there’s always been an acceptance of the violence against black people. In order to arrive at this acceptance there has continuously been an attempt to rationalize it. This is particularly so when there are protests or even riots in response. The attempt to justify police violence is too often based on the perverse idea of the inherent criminality of black people. This idea leads to a false sense of moral superiority which is one of the subtle underpinnings of white supremacist thinking.
We know that George Floyd had served time for cocaine possession. In this case arresting officer Gerald Goines of Houston PD is now awaiting trial for fraud and murder while on duty. As a result, Floyd’s case and over 100 others are now under review. Of course there is also plenty of data that lays out the over criminalization of black drug addicts. None of this should matter. At worst, George Floyd deserved his day in court over an alleged attempt to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Instead he was murdered.
I hope we can embrace the brutal reality of what we saw while listening to and acknowledging the lived experience of the black people. Let’s do the work to resist the temptation to criminalize black people. Do not allow the dehumanization of black people serve as a justification for police violence.
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