This is America. This is the crude, cold reality we live in as black bodies in 2020. The frequency of these killings is sickening. It is sickening that so many black people, including myself, are desensitized to the videos. I want to be emotional, to let all the tears out because another member of the black community was unjustly murdered, in broad daylight while telling the officer he couldn’t breathe. And how could he with a 200+ lbs. officer putting all of his weight on George Floyd’s neck. Instead of outwardly expressing how I feel, I am just fatigued. I’m tired of posting to my social media pages and retweeting posts about how this isn’t right. I’m tired of having the same conversations with my friends and family. “How could this happen?” “Will justice be served?” As much as I love my country and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world, this country is so deeply, fundamentally flawed. And it is all coming to light because of this virus. We have the time to dissect the video and research the officer, whose name does not deserve to be uttered.
The disrespect of the black body in America has been prevalent for nearly 500 years. We aren’t even wishing for racism to end; we know that isn’t happening. We just need the men responsible for these horrific crimes to be rightfully punished, just as any other citizen would if he or she committed cold-blooded murder. But black people are the strongest people ever and we will get through this. We are a resilient people. This will only fuel our fire to prove white supremacists and racists wrong. It is times like these when the words of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. resurface. What they endured never stopped. Racism and prejudice have not slowed down, but now are simply filmed. Just think about if these events weren’t recorded. Killers dressed in blue and wearing a badge would consistently walk free.
What makes me so scared being a young, black man is that these murders are happening to everyday, unassuming people. It is haunting to really know that this could happen to me or someone I care about in an instant. I can’t even imagine what it would do to my parents and my sister, who worked so hard to raise a smart, talented young man to get the call that I was killed in a clear act of racism.
To end this letter, I just want to address all the black people who are defeated now: YOU MATTER. Your excellence will continue to shape the narrative of who WE are. Growing up, my mom always told me, “be better than the average white person.” Being black, we are already at a disadvantage. We move forward keeping in mind that we matter to those who love us. We must carry the torch for the voiceless. For Trayvon Martin. For Eric Garner. For Sandra Bland. For Ahmaud Arbery. For Breonna Taylor. For George Floyd. And for the many black men and women sure to come after them, all crushed by the heavy knee that is racism in America.
USC Annenberg Professor Miki Turner asked some students to seize this moment to make sure George Floyd’s name would never be forgotten for the senseless way in which he died. Sure, classes are on summer break, but this assignment would only require them to search their souls. This is their time.
“As faculty we not only need to nurture their talents, but we are also tasked with helping them develop their voices so that they can use the power of their collective platforms to effect change,” Turner says.
These 12 essays reflect the pain, confusion, dismay and hopelessness that our current students and recent alums are experiencing in a world that is unfamiliar to us all — even those of us who were alive and woke during the turbulent ’60s. Collectively, they’ve all put the evolution on blast.
Annenberg Media student editors reviewed the stories and published them per newsroom guidelines.