Tuesday, June 2, 2020

How do we know that George Floyd was killed because of racism?

I mean this.  I've asked it in dozens of forums and places I don't usually even post, and have yet to get an answer.  I'm not saying it wasn't gut wrenching to watch. And unless there is one big, massive missing piece to the puzzle, the police officers in question must be tried for his death and, if found guilty (important piece here), prosecuted within the limits.  And perhaps it was because of racism on the part of the accused police officer.

But with that said, how do we know it was racist?  Everyone - Conservatives, Liberals, Republicans, Democrats, journalists, Christians, Christian leaders, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant, clergy, celebrities, friends and coworkers - have all said this is linked to racism in America, America as racist nation, American racists, white racists, and all that jazz.

But how do we know it was racist?  I'm not getting any answers.  I have people say black Americans live in terror, and racism is systemic, and discrimination and all.  But I've heard nobody say 'this is exactly how we know that George Floyd was killed because of racism.' 

The only reason I can figure is the one reason nobody will say even though they all seem to mean it: Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, is white.   That nobody comes out and says this suggests, at least to me, they know deep down (or not so deep) that this doesn't sound nice.  Saying it had to be racist because he's white just goes down sour.  Even though the entire current debate is based solely on the fact that the killing was racist, and the only reason we could assume that is because of the skin color of Mr. Chauvin, nobody will just say so.

Which, by my lights, suggests this is bad because we're all - including Conservatives, Christians, and those who say they know better - jumping on something for reasons we know to be wrong, but doing it anyway.  That is never a good sign in a nation, or in anything. 

It reminds me of what a friend of mine I knew in graduate school used to say about growing up in the former Soviet Union.  There was always this moment when they were forced to confess something they knew to be wrong.  Sometimes stupid, flagrantly false.  Because if you can get people to fall in line behind something they know to be wrong, you'll have no problem getting them to get behind more nuanced movements.  I can't help but think I'm seeing a bit of this now.


  1. Hi Dave,
    I think the(non-violent)protest is directed toward police brutality against blacks in general, meaning that it would not need to be proven that a particular white officer specially targeted blacks. They're looking at only the action, not the motivation, if that makes sense. Not saying it's right...just saying.

    1. You're probably right. In that, I feel it's conflating two separate issues. I'm not saying there is no racial disparities in our country, though I reject the idea that it's 400 years of Nazi racism and white privilege. But police brutality is a separate issue, as it does impact other people as well. But the speed with which it became a race issue can only be because of the race of the cop involved, and that also seems to me a bad road to travel down.

  2. About 10+ years ago, I had just moved to a place where I could walk to work each day. One route I could take home would take me by a Borders bookstore - and it was a nice one too with a 2nd story and everything (to give you an idea of how long ago this was).

    Anyone that knows me knows this is like putting a liquor store on an alcoholic's route home - I'd probably be richer now if that place wasn't there, waiting for my paycheck. One day I was walking home and having that internal debate style - you know the one: Stop inside the bookstore or go on home? Quick stop or go on? Stop or go? Stop or go? Just over and over in my head as I walked down the block.

    As I reached the entrance, I was leaning towards going, but then did that last minute cave in, making an abrupt right turn and heading inside. As I entered, a couple was leaving and in the process I heard something that sounded like "Because we're black?"

    Now, I don't even know if this was addressed to me, but let's pretend for a moment that it did. At least in this instance, a couple apparently thought that I was going into the bookstore to avoid them because they were black. Never mind that I only barely saw them just enough to avoid bumping into them. Never mind that I couldn't pick them out of a line up if I tried. If you told me they were actually Asian, I couldn't argue with you.

    But to their mind and their world, my actions were because of racism. In reality, I saw as little of them as I saw any other person on the street.

    I learned an important lesson that day: If you make your mind up about something, you can find evidence for anything. If you convince yourself that you're surrounded by lizard people, you will spot evidence for their lizardness all day every day. How can anyone possibly prove otherwise?

    So what do you do when debate is literally impossible? Because there's no objective way to prove motivation - merely odds.

    Nobody wants to admit that the red queen Alice talked to was a feature of human nature: verdict first, trial after.

  3. 2017 article that's even more relevant today.

    1. Yes, that would explain things. That would explain why so many religious leaders only two weeks ago were saying slow and easy is the key to saving thousands of lives where worshiping God and church stuff is concerned, who are now walking arm in arm with protesters among the thousands. There's stuff, and then there's important stuff. What were we saying about how many confessing Christians actually believe?


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