The events of the past month have rocked this county. The death of George Floyd brought out anger, confusion, indignation, senseless destruction, feelings of helplessness, political haymaking, speculation, accusations and demands for change. These incidents have made a lot of people think, but they’ve also made many others simply act without thinking.
Even though these events may have brought out the best in some people, they have brought out the worst in many others. While it may be understandable for those who feel they are being oppressed and mistreated to react as they did, the actions of “professional” protesters and anyone who promoted or resorted to violence and destruction are truly reprehensible.
However, the pinnacle of insanity has now come from the Minneapolis City Council members who made the ludicrous, knee-jerk decision that the city’s police department will be disbanded.
Obviously these people are not big fans of thinking or common sense. It’s also obvious that their public service days need to end, as they care nothing about the needs of all the people of Minneapolis but only about political appearances and giving in to the demands of a relatively small group of protesters.
Even just a minimal amount of thought and logic would reveal to them that it’s not the police that are the real danger but ourselves. We don’t need police reform; we need to reform ourselves. We are literally killing and destroying ourselves, as shown by these recent headlines in the Star Tribune: “8 people shot in incidents across Minneapolis,” “Hail of late-night gunfire in Uptown kills 1, wounds 11,” “Another violent day: 6 shot, I fatally, across Minneapolis,” “...violent crime grips Powderhorn Park.”
It’s so easy to blame and point fingers, but harder to think first. I suppose that’s why people are resistant to doing it. Not to mention that it’s dangerous because you could find that what you thought was true really isn’t.
The assumption made following Floyd’s death is that there is widespread, systemic racism in this country. But is that really the whole truth? How do we know how much racism really exists?
Certainly, those who have experienced it firsthand have a good idea, but even then, the question could be asked: Is it always actual racism or sometimes just perceived?
For those of us who haven’t experienced racism directly, we more than likely base our assumptions on what we see online or in the media. The problem is, any opinion we form based on these sources is almost entirely based on perception and speculation – or even worse – based on what some group wants us to believe.
Most rational people, if they were honest, would probably agree that systemic racism in this county is for the most part an imaginary condition. There may still be some exceptions – some areas that still need work – but we have made great progress and will continue to do so.
Where racism does exist is in some individuals. To a certain extent we are all “racist,” in that we tend to categorize people into groups by ethnicity, age, sex, wealth, political party, education, career and where we live. That’s not going to ever change. But real racists do exist, just like real pedophiles, rapists, kidnappers, robbers, drug dealers and violent gang members.
So, why don’t we see people marching in the streets protesting these common, ordinary crimes? Probably because we understand that these are just a few individuals, whereas with racism it’s easy to assert that it’s hiding in every single person and organization. And how can you prove that it’s not? Any isolated racial incident that occurs supposedly proves that it is.
That puts us in the situation where we are now, where every group and every person of influence is jumping on the bandwagon trying to prove that they’re not racist. All the while, the real racists are quietly hanging out just being racists.
Given our past history, It’s understandable that claims of widespread racism are made, even though they may not be accurate. It’s up to all of us to show that perception is not always reality. We need to unite and give others the benefit of the doubt. Sure, we will sometimes misunderstand and offend each other, but that’s not a racial thing, it occurs in all human interaction.
Yes, we still have some work to do, but it’s not going to happen by division and finger pointing. We will confront racism when it occurs, but we can’t fight it by holding a sign that says “I’m not a racist, but everyone else is.”
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.