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Concealed Racism or an Individual Mistake?

Concealed Racism or an Individual Mistake?

Thursday, 11 June, 2020 - 09:45
Jebril Elabidi
Libyan writer and researcher

An important question raises itself: What if George Floyd had been killed with no cameras or social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to cover his death? Will this racial crime have disappeared just like many others in the US and the world?

The killing of George Floyd exposed the hidden remains of the main problem, like an iceberg phenomenon: the magnitude of the problem in American society is not clear to be readily addressed; George Floyd is a US citizen of African origin and was killed by a policeman on May 25 in the city of Minneapolis.

Floyd was killed after an officer pressed his knee into his neck as the man repeated “I can’t breathe” while passers-by pleaded to the policeman to stop to no avail. This event is reminiscent of the 2014 murder of unarmed Eric Garner, who repeated the same phrase that Floyd said 11 times after an NYPD officer put him in a chokehold.

Perhaps the US judiciary’s hesitance to charge the policeman with first-degree murder has opened the door for questions about how blacks are treated before the law in the US. African-Americans compose around 14% of the population according to official surveys conducted in 2019, but make up more than around 23% of 1,000 deaths by gunfire at the hand of the police.

This was followed by President Trump’s tweets that pushed the protests out of control, despite the Attorney General of the State of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, saying that “charging the policeman accused of the murder of George Floyd with first-degree murder is still possible”, after forensics announced the man died after suffering a heart attack caused by choking.

Racism in the US is long-standing and cannot be simply pinned down to Trump's term. The US has not been able to eliminate racism despite its long history of an institutional and democratic system. Racism has remained an idea and phenomenon that manifests every once in a while without there being any real steps to reform the defect and close the gap between Americans of different origins, with those of African origin having suffered the most after native Americans.

After a long history of racism, blacks have gained many rights. For example, blacks were not allowed to enter buses using the same doors as whites, and many blacks were not allowed to sit on the front seats in schools and universities. Rosa Parks is perhaps the most famous among those who said “No” in the history of the US, in 1955, refusing to forgo her seat in the “colored section” for a white man after the driver asked her to.

Perhaps the old racist law that spanned most of American history giving white Americans more rights and privileges than other races in terms of education, immigration, voting, citizenship, land ownership and criminal proceedings, was what influenced policeman Derek Chauvin who killed George Floyd.

Racism is the erroneous belief that there are inherent differences between people’s behavioural traits and capacities according to race. According to the United Nations, there are no differences between racial and ethnic discrimination. Racism, however, is not exclusive to the US; many countries practice different forms of racism, and perhaps the classism between the nobles and horsemen is part of the history of racism. Tribalism, in other countries, despite being distinct in many ways, is also a form of racism when it is used to exclude others when tribal tendencies culminate in absolute loyalty to the tribe and blind allegiance.

The murder of George Floyd will have social consequences that will not be limited to adjusting the list of accusations against the police, as the fault is first and foremost social and only a small part of hidden racism has been revealed.

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