Mural of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Mural of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Mural of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Mural of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
By A. D. Reed –

I could not attend George Floyd’s funeral in Minneapolis, or the memorial service in Raeford, NC, or his homegoing in Houston, Texas.

But I stood in my kitchen, alone, motionless, for eight minutes and 46 seconds beginning at 3:55 p.m. on June 4 and felt tears on my cheeks. I watched the images from the North Central University chapel, from the Brooklyn Bridge in NY, from Washington, DC. I watched as thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans stood silent during those almost nine minutes, in tribute to the “gentle giant” George Floyd who was slowly, graphically, deliberately murdered by a Minneapolis lynch mob comprised of four uniformed, sworn police officers.

I’m a white man, 66 years old, born in the South, a resident of Asheville, great-grandson of a Confederate soldier, and grandson of a Russian revolutionary. The soldier’s sons became Georgia dirt farmers, his grandchildren mill workers, his great-grandchildren college graduates and Southern liberals. The Russian scientist and his wife emigrated in 1915 to this country, where they could, and did, find freedom, a gift they left to the next three generations of their descendants.

With that heritage, I have watched for three years—actually for 40 years, since Ronald Reagan’s inauguration—as the freedom my ancestors sought; fought for and against; enjoyed; demanded; and ultimately gained has been chipped away, diminished, stolen from under our feet. And each year as that freedom has diminished, my solidarity with America’s nonwhite community has grown and solidified.

Over the past three years and five months, since the first day that Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office, the nation’s very underpinnings—its Constitution, its laws, rules of behavior, norms, standards, values, and democracy itself—have been under deliberate assault.

But in the protests against the militarization of our police; in the daily murders of black men by white policemen; in the tear-gassing of protestors by unidentified militias in Darth Vader gear; in the utter rejection of Trumpian fascism led by those who have been most targeted and harmed by it … in all of that I find hope.

I am hopeful that our nation will no longer tolerate the authoritarianism that the Republican Party has championed since Richard Nixon’s day. It will not abide the corruption and evildoing that the GOP has fomented on the body politic under Reagan, Cheney, and Trump (to say nothing of Gingrich, Barr, McConnell, Paul Ryan, Lindsay Graham, Thom Tillis, Richard Burr, Mark Meadows, Susan Collins, and dozens of other GOP senators, governors, and judges). It will not allow the resurgent rebels of the Confederacy to rise up again and wage yet another treasonous civil war against our Constitution.

And I see hope that at last, at long, long last, the leaders of that movement to save our nation will be those who have been most trampled by its history. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and other nonwhite, non-European peoples are poised to become the majority of our population. My people—the last white bastion—will finally become a minority. And I cannot express how glad I will be to see that day come.

We—the white Americans who have tolerated, enabled, allowed this country to reach its present nadir—have had our chance, and we have blown it. I will gladly hand over the reins of power to those who can, who will, who must make the United States of America live up to and fulfill its thousands of broken promises.

It is time for all of us to keep our eyes on the prize. And always remember, my black brothers and sisters: Do Not Trust My People. Do not trust white beneficiaries of the status quo. Do not believe what they—we—tell you we will do; do not accept their—our—promises about “tomorrow”; do not agree to “just be patient” any longer.

Some of us, maybe tens, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, will be with you, behind you, beside you, as you maintain hope and move us into a new United States. We are counting on you … because what else can we do?

We have built this country on your backs, your labor, and your lives. Please, I ask you, take it back before it’s too late.


NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here, as well as assertions of facts, are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.

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