UNITED STATES—It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the racial reckoning that echoed throughout the United States and across the world globally. There is NO WAY you don’t know what I’m talking about; I’m referring to the death of George Floyd who was murdered by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. That video which was captured by a teenage girl was posted online and within a day it became the talk of the nation. People were horrified by what they witnessed, a cop kneeling on the neck of a man who was restrained, grasping for air and kept a knee on his neck for close to 9 minutes.

It is a video to this day that I still have not watched because it is indeed difficult for me to watch something like that. Watching disturbing things on video is hard; it’s even more difficult to watch a death on video. I have NOT seen the full video and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. However, with that said, Floyd’s death led to the Black Lives Matter movement, which echoed throughout the country as people from all facets of like, White, Black, gay, straight, young and old took to the streets to engage in letting voice be heard.

Now, the issue with the Black Lives Matter movement is that there were without a doubt some bad apples, and no one can sit back and say that it never transpired. There was violence it was horrifying to witness and watch. Hell, I recall watching video of officers and protestors getting into scuffles, I heard stories of buildings being torched, people being shot, plenty being killed in the process as a result of so called protests that became riots where businesses were destroyed and people were injured in the process people.

Not everything was peaceful and people cannot continue to hide that issue. However, the death of George Floyd forced Americans to have a conversation about race. Race is just something we don’t want to chat about and that is the problem. We have to have the tough discussion about race that is an issue in this country, especially as it relates to police brutality. Not every cop or police officer is bad; we cannot keep making that generalization, but there are those bad apples out there that have power and wield their power in a form of abuse that is NOT acceptable. Those officers have to be called out, put a spotlight so it’s KNOWN such behavior cannot be tolerated.

However, you cannot group all officers as a result of the actions of one officer. Wrong is wrong and when you see it people have to be willing to call it out and not be afraid to do so. Could better training be done with police officers and the communities they serve? Yes, I mean gone are the days where officers would get to know members of the community, talk to them, engage in chats about issues, not just showing up when a problem exists. If people don’t have interactions with the cops except with what they see depicted in the media and hear from others, it’s easy for them to form a negative opinion of them.

There are differences between people based on race, but those differences don’t have to be highlighted as negative. We have to embrace those differences that we have, but at the same time realize we are more alike than we are different. We need diversity in all facets of life because the more you mingle with people NOT like you the more you become educated and you learn. If we’re segregated or live in such bubbles that we don’t interact with others, how are we expected to know issues that are problematic if we have not be taught or educated about them? We won’t!

It is so disheartening that a man had to die and suffer at that in order for the country to open its eyes about issues related to race and the policing community. We have to figure out a better way to discuss issues that sometimes hit us at the core and make us uncomfortable. We have made some strides America, but we all know there is so much more we still have to do. We cannot stop now, we have to continue to push for equal treatment for all regardless of race and we really have to hold those who commit deliberate, heinous crimes.

Written By Zoe Mitchell