Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Disclaimer: Over the past couple of days, I’ve debated quite a bit whether I should write about this or not. The truth is, I’d promised myself I wouldn’t get political and that, as an English teacher, I’d try to stay away from topics that some may deem controversial. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that what’s been happening in the U.S. recently has got little to do with politics and a lot to do with equality, fairness and just basic human rights, so here we go.
Let me start off by saying my knowledge on the matter is limited and mostly comes from social media and other media outlets, therefore I have no way of knowing how skewed my perception of current events might be, however, I’ll try to do my best to concisely explain what’s been happening in the U.S.
What’s going on?
If you’ve been watching the news or have even just been scrolling through your social media feed, you may have found it virtually impossible not to come across videos and photos of demonstrations, protests and even riots. This all started a few days ago when people from a great number of American cities took to the streets to protest against police brutality and police killings of black Americans.
Protests spread quickly throughout the country (and even across the pond) and while most of them have managed to remain peaceful, at least for the most part, there have been a few marred by looting and violence, thus bringing fear and chaos in many communities.
What sparked it all?
Unfortunately, racism and police brutality against the Black community in the U.S. are as old as time but, for many, the killing of 46-year-old, African American, George Floyd, who died at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, was the last straw.
According to reconstructions, police were called on the scene by a deli store worker who was accusing Floyd of paying with a counterfeit $20 bill. Things escalated quickly, George Floyd was soon handcuffed and pinned to the ground by officer Chauvin, who kept Floyd from moving by keeping his knee on his neck for several minutes, even though the man claimed multiple times he couldn’t breathe. George Floyd eventually stopped breathing, went into cardiac arrest and passed away.
Even though all four officers were fired and Derek Chauvin has since been taken into custody and charged with murder and manslaughter, many claim (rightfully so) that the measures that have been taken aren’t enough and that something needs to be done to prevent this from happening EVER AGAIN.
Is this an isolated accident?
Unfortunately, this is not the first time an African American has been unjustly killed by police and while the battle against racism in the country is ongoing, it’s no surprise this brutality has compelled many, regardless of their race and political stance, to take action and to protest to seek justice and equality, in a country where black citizens are two and half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by police.
For this reason, many have decided to show their support and stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, a movement that demands justice and equal opportunities for African Americans.
So what’s going to happen now?
This is an incredibly challenging time for America and possibly a pivotal moment in history. Whatever may happen in the next few days, hopefully, it will bring to the result we’re all hoping for - a safe and a fair America for the Black community.
debate: consider in your head before deciding
get political: talk about politics
media outlets: newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet
skewed: an opinion, piece of information, result etc that is skewed is incorrect, especially because it has been affected by a particular thing or because you do not know all the facts
come across: find
riot: a situation in which a large crowd of people are behaving in a violent and uncontrolled way
take to the streets: to go outside on the streets, usually to protest or celebrate something
brutality: cruel and violent behavior
spread: start to affect more people or areas
across the pond: on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean
looting: to steal things, especially from shops or homes that have been damaged in a war or riot
as old as time: used to say something has been around for a very long time
the last straw: the last in a line of unacceptable events that makes you lose your patience
escalate: get worse and worse
handcuff: place handcuffs on someone (handcuffs are the metal rings joined by a chain used to hold a prisoner's wrists together)
pin: hold someone firmly
pass away: die
manslaughter: the crime of killing someone illegally but not deliberately
ongoing: happening at this moment
political stance: political orientation
pivotal: very important