The Constitution of the United States of America starts with the words “We the people”. But George Floyd’s feeble voice “Please, please… I can’t breathe” as he was being crushed under the knees of Derek Chauvin, a fatty white police officer, changed the spirit of this 221-year-old statute book. The ‘we’ is losing its meaning as the black Americans feel chocked and the whole America is burning literally. It is unthinkable that a country which prides itself to be the first in the world to be founded on equality and welfare of all citizens is seeing ‘racial virus’ eating into its vitals. It is ironical that a nation that takes undue interest in policing the world against violations of democracy and freedom is in the thick of unprecedented violence over the worst violation of human rights. Hordes of black Americans have come out narrating horrendous acts of brutality against them on a regular basis. It is not just a coincidence that the majority of victims of Covid 19 are the blacks in the US.
Floyd’s murder cannot be seen as just the death of one more black American at the hands of a white man. It is the soul of America that has been seared; a soul that has been unfettered in stages by the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King through years of struggle. Unfortunately, unlike his predecessors, President Donald Trump poured oil on the flames by his uncouth utterance that he was prepared to deploy troops to end the violence and vandalism. Instead of soothing the bruised psyche of the people, he preferred to call the protesters ‘thugs’ and ‘terrorists’ prompting the Houston police chief to ask the President to “keep the mouth shut if you can’t be constructive”. Instead of fanning the flames of hate, the head of the State should have taken some bold steps to alleviate the minority Americans’ frayed tempers. He should have been seen with the hounded people rather than pouring more scorn on them. He should have taken a leaf out of the gesture of white police personnel who kneeled before protesters, seeking pardon from them.
The President’s show of holding a Bible in his hands, standing near a Church close to White House, just after the police had used force to clear the area of protesters, suggests that he is deploying religion to regain his lost ground. He is also trying to polarize Americans on racial lines in an election year. The latest opinion polls have showed that Joe Biden, his rival, is ahead of Trump and this seems to have unnerved the latter.
Lack of inclusiveness is the root cause of many burning issues in every country. There’s widespread bias in the treatment of blacks, migrants, minorities, Dalits, the poor, the tribals, the marginalized etc., displaying blatant exclusiveness. The way sections of society are discriminated against; denied dignity; and not given equal access to justice betrays lack of inclusiveness. Pope Francis has unequivocally come out against this scourge when he said: “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind to racism or exclusion in any form… and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.” Let us pin our hopes on what Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean O’ Malley OFM Cap, said: “It is time for our communities to address the injustices suffered by the African American community. A time to recommit to cleansing our society of systemic racism."
(Published on 8th June 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 24)