All The Ways We Have Failed, As A Nation, A People - And Response

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

It's never too late to look inward and realize all the ways we have failed. As a nation, a people. In a sense, America's knees were on George Floyd's neck as his life slipped away. We failed him. We even failed Chauvin and the Chauvins on the force, by ignoring the warning signs earlier on, and attacking anyone who attempted to sound the alarm that this is not right. This is not natural. This can't be acceptable behavior and a free and democratic nation, that touts itself being a Christian nation. Cops like Chauvin all too often show a pattern of unfit behavior earlier on, but they're allowed to slide. They're given promotions, pay raises and are allowed to supervise newly recruits. Passing on their unfit and unbecoming behaviors. 

It wasn't at all surprising recently to see the name of a local cop briefly in the news I immediately recognized who was fired for lying about a recent road rage incident he was involved in with another motorist. That same cop lied over 15 years ago when a young airman was home on leave and the cop stopped him in the highly racially mixed community the airman was born and grew up before enlisting in the Air Force. I can recall how seemingly the entire police department went into coverup mode to protect him. He should have been reined in then; held responsible and warned his behavior was not acceptable and would not be tolerated. Instead he was promoted. First to supervisor, then later to sergeant. I also recall how some members of the black community came at me with claws drawn because I spoke up and out about the issue. Our failure too is denial. 

The black community also has to confront all the ways it has failed its young. You can't demand laws you know will lead to even more oppression. You can't allow someone, even when they're black, to get away with referring to little black children getting off a school bus as "dirty laundry" without your own child, even theirs, being looked upon as the same at some point. Your child might be protected in the hills of Beverly or in your upscale community, but the moment they're outside that protected exclusive world they're viewed no differently than those children getting on and off a school bus everyday living in some poor neighborhood. 

A nation and people in denial is why George Floyd happened. The failure of a nation and a people to seriously confront the problem is why it's happened numerous times before, and has happened since. Because of all the ways, as a nation and a people, we continue to fail. 

The conviction of Chauvin doesn't exonerate America for all the ways we've failed. Not as a nation. Not as a people. And certainly not as a nation that touts itself as a Christian nation. 

Brenda Washington 

* * * 

Ms. Washington,

I don’t know who has failed, Mr. Floyd or the police officer.  What I see in the news is black people committing crimes and not being able to submit when pulled over or arrested. I was told many years ago by my father, who had a third grade education, that if you put yourself in a criminal situation, bad things are liable to happen.

I would like to think if I was in the policeman’s position I would have tried to let him get up off the ground. But I’m looking at it from a layman’s perspective. The job of a policeman or policewoman comes with a lot of inherent danger.

The advice I give my grandchildren is the same my father gave me 73 years ago, except I also stressed to them that if they do happen to have an encounter with a police officer they are to obey whatever is asked of them, never try to jump back in their car to retrieve something, and for heavens sake, don’t run. Guilty people run.

I think there is a big contrast to someone black getting killed by the police, and the white gentleman getting killed by the police, a couple weeks ago.  I don’t recall anyone feeling a need to protest, loot, riot in the streets, or burn anything down.  My heart goes out to any family experiencing a loved one killed this way. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to legislate self-control. Ultimately, we are all responsible for our actions.

David Garren

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