Don’t share videos of George Floyd’s death, do this instead

We need action.

by Athian Akec
29 May 2020, 11:30am

It’s painful to be black right now. We’re a community that's in a state of perpetual grief. The brutal murder of George Floyd, not long after that of Ahmaud Arbery, is yet another example of the deadly consequences of white supremacy. The videos, plastered all over our social media feeds and TV screens, are reminders of this. As black people our lives are fragile. We live in a world that doesn't respect our right to breathe, our right to be safe or our right to life.

A key part of tackling this issue, counterintuitively, is stopping the sharing of the graphic images of black death. For us black people, they devalue our lives, normalise our deaths and damage our mental health. So many of these videos are out there. Ask yourself before sharing them online, why would this one help? Who am I hurting in the process? In them, we see the lives of our brothers and sisters taken away by murderous hatred. It fills us with indescribable feelings of anguish, pain and misery. Instead, try to proactively address the root causes.

I can’t stress this enough. We need to be urgent. If we don’t there are African American men and women alive today, breathing, living and hoping, whose lives will be cut brutally short by murderous hatred. It’s not about individuals. It’s about a system that devalues black life, normalises our death and suffering, and consistently fails to protect us from those who wish us dead. It pains me to think of which one of us will be next to fall victim. All the black mothers and fathers who won’t see their children grow up. All the teenagers who won’t realise the promise of their lives. All those who won’t see another day because of their dark skin.

We need to be loud to ensure there are political, economic and social consequences for those who uphold, and are complicit in the system of white supremacy that led to George Floyd’s death. The police officers who take the lives of unarmed African Americans should be charged with murder and put in jail for the rest of their lives. The same for their colleagues who stand there and fail to intervene. Corporations who are reliant on disproportionally black prison labour should face mass boycotts. Mayors, senators and presidents who fail to take the issue seriously should be voted out of office.

What would that look like in practice? That approach would mean those like Amy Cooper, who called the police on an African American birdwatcher as a form of threat, would fear losing their jobs. It would mean, following the death of unarmed African Americans, police would actually face justice. It means that politicians like the Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar -- the state’s top prosecutor between 1999 and 2007, who declined to press charges against multiple officers accused of police brutality, including officer Derek Chauvin, who killed Floyd -- would not be in the running to be Joe Biden's VP pick.

Start by donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, who post bail for people who cannot afford to pay it. In their own words, “We stand against cash bail as unjust and identify wealth-based discrimination as a vehicle for the criminal justice system to target populations for structural violence. People of color and immigrants face higher rates of arrest, harsher sentencing, and disparities in the setting of bail compared to white citizens.” Donate to Reclaim the Block and sign their petition, which calls for Minneapolis to invest in “violence prevention, housing, resources for youth, emergency mental health response teams, and solutions to the opioid crisis,” instead of more police. Donate to George Floyd’s memorial fund, a fund set up by Philonise Floyd, brother of George, to “cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George.” These are small steps to take online, but can help spark real change.

Any emotion you felt at the video of George Floyd’s death should be channelled into activism. To my generation, let us be the ones who drive this change: who push our elders into changing the way they think, the way they vote. We owe it to those who fought for our rights before, and those who’ll come after us to defeat white supremacy wherever we find it -- be it the police, our political system or the prisons. Police brutality against African Americans has to be consigned to the history books. If we fail to do so the pain and suffering against individuals, communities and families will continue.

Donate to the following Minnesota fundraisers:

The Minnesota Freedom Fund tackles the fact that “People of color and immigrants face higher rates of arrest, harsher sentencing, and disparities in the setting of bail compared to white citizens.”

Reclaim the Block is a community-led initiative that pushes for “Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department” into more constructive areas.

Black Visions Collective is a black LGBTQ+ charity fund developing Minnesota’s “emerging Black leadership to lead powerful campaigns”.

George Floyd Memorial Fund has been set up by George’s sister to deal with ensuing financial burdens that come with a death, funeral and trial.

A longer list of country and worldwide change-makers in need of funding can be found here.

Ahmaud Arbery
george floyd