Forty years after four white Miami police officers were acquitted by an all white jury in Tampa of the 1979 killing of unarmed Black motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie, Floridians are still protesting the inequities in America's criminal justice system and the murders of Black people at the hands of police.
The civil disobedience that occurred in Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, and throughout America during the last weekend in May 2020 following the killings of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of cops eerily reflected the angst, anguish, and discomfort many South Floridians experienced all those years ago following the controversial verdict.
The issues are identical: Black lives being undervalued in America. The killings of George Floyd and Arthur McDuffie by cops, and the public outcries of grief toward delayed justice in both cases manifested the hopelessness many people felt toward a society that treated them with gross antipathy.
In all those years, despite our shared progress toward creating a more socially integrated society, there still exists a seemingly unabated current of institutionalized racism that continues to criminalize and dehumanize Black life. This has to end.
The grief is unbearable and unacceptable. Black people should not have to repeatedly and publicly affirm their worth to and in a society that they were forced to build by enslavement. It is insane that Black people are routinely tasked to educate their non-Black peers that racism in all forms is unacceptable. It is unthinkable that more than a half century after the release of the Kerner report that we are a society that remains separate and unequal.
For far too long, our society has accepted the status quo of police targeting communities of color. For far too long, police officers have been able to use excessive and deadly force without repercussions. For far too long this lack of accountability has eroded trust in law enforcement and made our communities less safe.
Until we live in an American society that roots out all anti-Black oppression and injustice, and until we all act to show value to the lives of all Black Americans, all Americans will not be free. The list of Black people who have been murdered by police is far too long for people to ignore the institutionalized racism in our country.
Systemic racism will not be eradicated if Black people act alone. We must all act to root out discrimination and inequity in all forms of our society. Ignorance is unacceptable.
None of us is free unless all of us are and, clearly, some of us are not yet free.