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We Cannot Return to Normal

Photo by Ted Eytan via flickr

2020. A year to remember if ever there was one. Though the COVID virus that would sweep across the world and turn our lives upside down was discovered in late 2019, in early 2020 the pandemic ball really got rolling and in many ways, it shaped the course for what turned out to be an incredibly difficult year.

Even during a global pandemic, life, under very unusual circumstances, went on. People worked remotely, kids did school from home, restaurants only did take out or door dash. As positive COVID cases grew, hospitals were overrun, taxing staff to their limits. Due to how gravely the pandemic had (has) affected the world and our very way of life, people turned to the news to stay updated. Naturally, COVID dominated the news hours but a once in a century pandemic was not gonna stop white people from killing black people. 

Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog while he was shot and killed by delusional, white supremacist clowns. Breonna Taylor had her life taken when white cops, not wearing uniform, broke into her home and retaliated a warning shot from her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, with 32 shots, six of which hit Breonna, killing her. 

As horrible as the deaths of Breonna and Ahmaud were, the killing of black people at the hands of whites has become a standard. When a black person has their life ended more often that not, by the police, it is sadly, just another day in America. It happens so frequently that it is part of American normalcy.

When a black person is killed by the police, racial unrest always follows. There are protests, calls for change and usually some rioting and looting by sick opportunists. And after a while, it dies down, the protests stop and things go back to normal. And then George Floyd was murdered. 

So often we hear the details of how blacks are killed by police or we get video footage of it in shoddy quality. Thanks to Darnella Fraizer, the murder of George Floyd was captured in such horrific detail that it felt like anyone that saw the footage was there on the street that day when it happened. Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George's neck for nearly 10 minutes as witnesses pleaded with Chauvin to get off him. George told Chauvin multiple times that he couldn't breath. Chauvin stared back at the witnesses. He not only looked cold, but calm as he had his knee on George's neck. He killed George as casually as a person tosses away a cigarette after a smoke. It was one of the most blatant disregards for human life ever seen.

Pandemic news was sidelined considerably in the wake of George's death. His murder sparked racial unrest the likes of which America hasn't seen since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. All while this was going on, white folks were (are) feeling uneasy. The tsunami of protests that washed over American as well as the rest of the world could not be ignored. Like a jackhammer pounding away at the pavement outside an apartment complex of tenants that desperately want to sleep the AM hours in, the civil unrest that erupted in 2020 and continues throughout 2021 has made it nearly impossible for white people to carry on in the bubble that white privilege oh-so graciously affords them. This unrest isn't just unfolding in the form of protests. On our House and Senate floors, there's talk about police accountability (or lack thereof), America's failure to truly recognize the country's original sin that is slavery and whether or not it should be taught in schools. 

All this "noise" has disturbed the American normalcy. White folks, especially those on the side of right wing media would love nothing more for all this "uproar" to fall silent. They wish for all the politicians that are truly pushing for change, the athletes speaking out about the racial injustices that plague this nation, the countless protesters on the streets to be quite. To get back in our lanes. You know, shut up and dribble. 

Largely, the protests throughout 2020 were peaceful but the very small percent that were not became the main focus for right wing hacks like Fox News to label all Black Lives Matter protests as riots and loot fests. Because if you protest against police brutality or racial inequality, apparently you hate America. Even now, laws are being signed to shut BLM protesters up. They call them "anti-riot bills" but really, these are poorly disguised anti-protest bills crafted in an effort to sway BLM protesters from taking to the streets. In Florida, part of these bills will allow motorists to run over protesters blocking the street. That's right folks, vehicular manslaughter could be perfectly legal in FL and possibly other states because that's how far some of our lawmakers are willing to go to keep their corrupt cheeks in power and silence BLM protesters.

Though some of our white allies may have gone back to business as usual, the jackhammer continues to pound away at the pavement. In the time I've taken to stitch this little write up together and in the weeks I've sat on it, Dante Wright, Adam Toledo, Andrew Brown Jr. are just a few of the names to be added to the list that police brutality has claimed. We weren't even given ample time to enjoy the fact that Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts for the murder of George Floyd on April 20th before we were reminded just how crappy the American policing system is to people of color. It doesn't matter that I didn't know them personally. No matter how many times it happens, it will never stop being heart breaking. 

All throughout this COVID-19 pandemic a repeated phrase has been "getting back to normal." The pandemic, has only shinned a light on issues that America has tried it darnedest to avoid. It it way past time to pay the bill that this country has racked up on racial reckoning. 

We cannot go back to normal because police brutality is a part of American normalcy. 

TLDR; American normalcy sucks. 

If you're bothered by the sound of that jackhammer, get used to. It isn't getting shut off anytime soon. 

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