by Mason Holland, On Behalf of the NAACP UConn Chapter Executive Board
I understand I do not simply speak for myself when I say that we as a people have experienced the awakening of all awakenings. As a collective we have grown numb. Translation: lack of sensation or feeling. A condition brought by trauma, automatically manifested in defense as the body’s coping mechanism. This time was different. It broke through all of that. Something inside every one of us changed the day we saw the video of George Floyd’s demise. Something broke in all of us, and as he cried out in vain for his mother, I thought about how broken she would soon be after seeing her baby join her far too early. With his demise came a breakthrough. Calls on social media to address the incident became louder. Protests were planned and then executed and then they returned, bigger and more diverse. People of celebrity status voiced their anger and their pain from George Floyd’s murder, and as I witnessed the world’s reaction around me and the rest of my board, I came to a realization: We are on the precipice of fundamental change.
Pain synesthesia is a bodily reaction that manifests when a person witnesses something disturbing. Menacing. Inhumane. For the first time in my lifetime, I saw this reaction not only gripping my own people, but non-Black folks as well. The people I loved were writhing in agony, but I saw those that existed outside of my diaspora afflicted with the same pain. We as a country are resilient. Resiliency does not simply manifest on one’s own accord. Resiliency depends on those who exist around us and outside of our direct worldview. We have all bonded through our trauma, and to break free we must tap into our compassion and our better human nature.
George Floyd is ingrained into our movement as a martyr. He came to pass so that the rest of us could live better. There is a misconception about the world before Covid-19. So many people sing of happier times before the virus took refuge on our homelands, not realizing that we had only normalized abnormal behavior. The murder of George Floyd is not a symptom of the pandemic, rather of the oppressiveness of the American system. All we needed as a nation to see the light was a sign, a symbol, an occurrence to grip our attention. The powers beyond our control manifested that change in the martyrship of a beautiful Black man, but we must use that to move forward in peace and in change.
There should never come another day in which a Black man in death’s hands calls out for his deceased mother in agony. There should never come a day where demise causes us to change as opposed to on our own volition, but we as humans are imperfect. Sometimes we need something to hurt in order to change and we must.
To not change the way we interact with each other as Black people does not allow us to progress. To not hold institutions and those carrying out their work accountable for their missteps and offenses does not give meaning to George’s death for the movement. We must live in his memory, and the best way to do so, is to live and strive for a more united America, in defense of Black Lives and in pursuit of justice and liberty for all.