By now, you’ve probably all heard the news: On May 25th, 46-year-old George Floyd died after being pinned to the ground with a knee on his neck by a police officer for over eight minutes (and with two other officers kneeling on him as well). The videos of the incident are equals parts disturbing and infuriating, and the city of Minneapolis and many cities across the country have seen protests and calls for justice in response.
In listening to the reactions of the incident, I’ve noticed a few things:
- A prominent plea from many is that it cannot just be people of color who voice their outrage and call for change. White America needs to join these calls for justice as well, and several prominent figures, such as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, have done so.
- A number of musicians have spoken out about this tragedy, but country music as a whole has been conspicuously silent on this matter. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but the only statement I can find from anyone in the genre is an Instagram post from Rascal Flatts lead singer Gary LeVox. Beyond that, crickets.
I’ve been silent on the matter up to this point too, so let’s change that right now: What happened to George Floyd this week was inexcusable. Nothing he did justified him getting choked to death by law enforcement. The matter demands a complete and thorough investigation, and those found responsible should be punished to the full extent of the law.
There are certainly issues with law enforcement training that can be corrected, and Hasan Minhaj does a good job outling both the problems and some potential solutions in “Patriot Act.” However, what happened to Floyd, as well as what happened to Christian Cooper and Ahmaud Arbery, are symptoms of a much larger problem with racial inequality in our society. We talk about it a lot, but we never seem to have the guts to follow through and actually address it. At some point, we need to say “Enough,” and make an unequivocal commitment to the idea that all people are created equally and should treated fairly. I don’t know what the next steps are, but I believe that if enough people stand up (that includes you too, country music) and start looking for a solution, we can find one, and we can change society for the better.
George Floyd was the latest in a long line of people of color who have been held down and not allowed to stand up. Let’s work together to make sure no one else gets treated like that ever again.