George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery & Life as a Black Man in America

Following a number of unjust deaths of black men in the U.S.- including George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, One Young World Ambassador Meron Semedar gives us his own testimony regarding life in “black America” where he arrived as a refugee 8 years ago. 

George Floyd protest

Photo source: AP

 

It is safe to say that most black men in the United States have experienced harassment at the hands of police officers or by individuals who currently benefit from the criminal justice system. George Floyd although struggling to speak, he repeatedly shouted, “Please, please, I can’t breathe” with no one to spare his life. People recording the event pleaded with the police time and again, but with no reaction from the police to their request to step off him and check his pulse. Yet the four officers involved continued to pin his neck and the rest of his body to the asphalt. We have witnessed time and again unarmed black men die at the hands of police officers across America and receive little to no justice in most cases. The mere people who are supposed to protect us. Thus, the toxic cycle continues. You just have to hope that you won’t be the next statistic and that justice will be served, because as a black man, you already know that it will happen again, either to you or someone you know.

As a black man, you are always on high alert and refrain from engaging in activities that will bring unwanted attention to yourself, both by police and by insecure members of the general public.

Some things many black men do because of the world we’re living in:

  • Make sure the tail lights of their car are working.
  • Avoid wearing hoodies.
  • Parents teach their black sons how they should behave around police and even around other races starting from a young age.
  • Post a university or company logo on the back of their car in the hope that it will send a positive message and enforce the idea that they are not a threat.

These are just a few of the many actions many black people take to protect themselves in the US.

 

 

To the 1.4 billion black people around the world, our unity across communities and nations is needed today more than ever to defend the black race. As did our forefathers, it remains our responsibility to fight dehumanization, demand justice and equal treatment. Following their footsteps and as is the spirit of freedom fighters, we have to do this in the hopes that our children will be able to get the treatment that we don’t have.

The fight for justice and freedom continues!

 

Yet, even with all these safety precautions, you won’t necessarily beat the system or the impulses of many racist people out there. It appears that black men are not entitled to live their lives freely.

As a black man, I might try to do all the things that an average human being can do. But subconsciously, especially when a police siren is wailing behind me or next to me, I know I always have to watch my back, I always have to be careful. I don't have to be careful or cautious because I have committed a crime, but rather, because a racist individual or group singles me out for being black.

Black men hold the highest statistic for people who get stopped, harassed, and imprisoned for no valid reason in most parts of America. This is true despite the fact that they make up the lowest ratio to that of other races living in the same neighborhood or city. This has been proven time and again in many research studies.

It has become common to see a story of “a black man set free after 20, 30, even more, years from prison for a crime he did not commit” in the news. The worst part is that no one is held accountable for the wasted years in that black man’s life. Many black men continue to wrongfully suffer in prisons.

In the US or even when you travel around the world, as a black man, regardless of where you are from, your decency, your level of education or wealth - it is a given you will be seen as inferior and will be treated differently. The recent mistreatment and dehumanising of African people in Guangzhou, China during the COVID-19 pandemic was a good example.

ahmoud arbery protest

Image source: Global News

Whether it be denying black people the right to BBQ in the streets of Oakland or jog freely in the streets of Georgia, or can not get a humane way of arrest by police in the streets of Minneapolis, it's shameful to call law enforcement or inflict harm based on ignorance and fear. Who gave you the power to take someone else’s life?

I do not wish a cold-blooded murder on any race, but let’s face it, black men lose their lives day after day in the streets of America. It sickens me to see that many black mens’ lives have ended in such an unnecessary way. Often we see innocent black mens’ lives cut short on our streets, denied the potential to be somebody. The psychological impact it has on society, and especially black communities, is profound.

As a black man, George Floyd's death makes me sick, angry and depressed. I hope at the least it should make you see how America has been unfair and unjust to black people, and demand for justice. We should all question why none of the police officers involved in his death are not behind bars yet.

Ahmaud's story should make us all question why it took two months to get the world to notice the wrongful death of a black man, or why action was only taken after a video was made public. This further leads me to question how many cases went unheard or unsolved? How many people will face injustice because there were no video records to prove it?

Through it all, I remain hopeful because I see that people of all races are learning of the injustices committed against America's black communities and standing for justice. To the silent groups and those who don’t see the injustice of police brutality, one way or another, it will affect you. The plea of any black person to you is to think twice before you call the police on us. Because your call could be the initiation to the death of an innocent unarmed black man.