Eight minutes forty six seconds
One moment in time, but it was more than a moment. It was much, much longer than just a moment.
The world has been around for millions of years and a mere 243 American years, is just minutes, seconds even, in comparison. But for the blacks here in America, those “minutes and seconds” are for them, generations of abuse and suppression. They and their families have lived for generations, unable to breathe.
One minute, Africans are rounded up and torn from their homes in Africa and taken across the world to be sold as slaves to wealthy Americans. They were made to work for hours in a day; beaten or killed when they complained. They had no say or any control of their life. A piece of furniture had more rights than they did. Black women were raped, then had to raise a child through no help from the white father/slave owner, that’s if that slave owner didn’t sell the child as soon as the child grew old enough to work. Suffocating.
Another minute a war occurred and many slaves were forced to go with their owners and serve in the Confederate armies (the exact army that wanted to keep the blacks enslaved) as body servants, laborers, teamsters, hospital workers, and cooks. Trapped.
Another minute and all the black slaves were emancipated. They were “free.” But what were they free to do? They had a hard time getting jobs, especially ones that would pay anything. They weren’t allowed to drink out of most drinking fountains, had to use a separate bathroom, were not allowed to vote, had to ride in the back of the bus, and could not go to the same schools white people went to. Smothered.
One minute later, they were being accused of murders that they didn’t commit and were either hung or shot. The “lucky” ones got sent to prison for life, even if there was no evidence that could show they had committed a crime. Many had legitimate alibis proving they could not have committed the crime they were accused of. Abuse
One minute the black “slave” would be walking down a sidewalk or sleeping in their own home in the middle of the night and be shot down. They would be pulled over in their cars and end up in handcuffs for a headlight that was out. They were kicked out of stores and cops were called on them because they just wanted to buy some clothes. Discrimination
One minute a hero stood up and spoke about dreams and rights for them. He was shot and killed. They had a dream. Their dream was killed. Murder
One minute jobs were given to a white person over a black one, even if the black person might have more qualifications. Blacks were paid less than another person doing the same job. They couldn’t move up and earn more money and they didn’t have enough money to go to school to get a higher education to give them more opportunities. Suppression.
One minute a black man by the name of George Floyd (who had been in prison in the past for selling drugs, but was trying to turn his life around by working as a security officer) was held down and handcuffed for giving a store owner, what he may or may not have known was a counterfeit $20 bill. For THAT he died. “I can’t breathe!”
In just seconds, the world turned out in masses and protested, not just for the murder of George Floyd, but for the many 8 minutes, 56 seconds of history where the black people were held down and couldn’t breathe. Racism had increased in the last three and a half years but had always been at the core of American society. “Bring me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to BREATHE FREE.“
Where had we, as white Americans, gone wrong? What has taken us so long to acknowledge and fix our discriminations and inequalities?
In seconds, there is talk about police reform. There is talk about increasing education for black people and the poor who can’t afford to attend college. There is talk about mental health care, help for the homeless.
8 minutes and 46 seconds. Speed up the clock. It’s time to make a change now!