The Real Pandemic: America’s Love Affair with Racism By Mae Catherine Godhigh

When George Floyd called for his mother, every Black Mother in America heard him, and it globally ripped our souls. I am a black mother. I am a Christian. I am disgusted beyond comprehension. I am out of RIPs and out of tears.

For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, we were face to face with the corrupt foundation and rottenness of the United States of America. George Clooney spoke truth to power when he reminded us that American racism is our pandemic, and in 401 years, we’ve yet to find a vaccine.

On February 23, 2020, America watched an unarmed 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery gunned down in the streets by two white men, named Gregory and Travis McMichael. His crime: jogging while black. On March 13, 2020, an unarmed 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times in her home by a white police officer, named Kenneth Walker. Her crime: sleeping while black. On May 25, 2020, the world watched an unarmed 46-year-old George Floyd being lynched by a white police officer named Derek Chauvin. George’s crime was that he allegedly passed a fake $20 bill while being black.

Across this nation, black families continue to hold conversations with their sons and grandsons. They are instructed what to do and what not to do with police encounters. How is that we find ourselves standing in the same space of anguish and anger? Can somebody please tell me what has changed since 1619? Regrettably, it is the date and mounting hashtags.

What triggered protests and riots around the world go much deeper than the murder of George Floyd. The deep roots of systemic racism lit the flames. It was a tone deaf America that condemned the peaceful protest of Colin Kaepernick. It was a not so blind justice system ignoring cries for mercy and justice. It was the blood cries of the countless murdered black bodies that stain American soil. I speak of those individuals who were murdered without documentation, murdered without convictions, and murdered without justice.

In 1851, America’s bipolar relationship with people of color was evident. The racist Lord Amherst hatched a diabolical plan to distribute wrapped smallpox infected blankets to American Indians. That same resentment and tolerance continues with the descendants of enslaved people. This indignation and irritation is currently seen in the over policing of black/brown communities. Since the day blacks were bought to the shores of this country, we have been hated and hunted. The fires burning in this nation are the result of the racist institutions- Systems designed to keep its knee on the neck of black Americans in the areas of fair housing, education, voting, politics, health care, judicial and financial equity. What erupted in this country were not just protests, riots, and fires. It was the language of the unheard.

As I sat and viewed the video of George Floyd being lynched, a flash bomb erupted in my soul. In that instance, I knew I was forever changed. America watched in horror and, in real-time, another scene that was all too familiar. I will never forget the smug look of his oppressor on top of a bound black man with his hand in his pocket and knee on his neck. In that moment, I realized we were watching a symbol of America’s racism and dominance. My mind flashbacked to the old black and white lynching photographs depicting the same smug look on white faces surrounding black mutilated bodies. O, say can you see? Will the lens of an unrepentant America ever see the collective and transgenerational trauma suffered by black Americans? There has to be truth before reconciliation.

If you need to ask for the definition of white privilege… you have it.

White privilege is American as apple pie. According to Oxford Languages, it is the inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice. White privilege will ask the question, what do we want? Ours is a 401-year-old answer. We want to live. We want justice and equity. We are tired of being red-lined and blackballed. We are tired of black blood filling the streets of America. We want progressive reforms in all areas where black/brown Americans are brutalized. We want fairness and justice for all people. We want you to stop seeing us as threats. It’s simple; treat others the way YOU want to be treated. We don’t want to hear another person cry to live. Think character, not color. Live and let live. We can do better. We must.

In my closing, I wish to thank the broad diversity of protestors, especially our white allies, who courageously stand in solidarity with us. I especially applaud the hard work of our youth and grassroots organizers. You now carry the torch of freedom. It is your vision and strength that will shape a better nation for all people. We, the protestors of yesterday, are now aging. Never forget you will need the wisdom, experiences, and prayers of your elders. Together we will continue to fight injustice anywhere and everywhere. Together as a nation, we will be that change.