Within two weeks, an outstanding conversation about structural racism began to take place in the United States. It took the blackest man’s deadly death on the hands of the white police to overthrow American opinions. The result is the first concrete measures that do not predict the outcome of the November presidential election.
Just over 15 days ago, the new corona virus was the best call in the United States and around the world. On Monday, May 25, everything changed. Unfortunately, the virus has not disappeared. But the words of a black man, “I can’t breathe,” when he dies under the white police knee, have shaken America.
George Floyd, 46, joined a long list of African Americans killed by police the same day: Eric Garner and Michael Brown 2014, Sandra Bland 2015, Philando Castile 2016, Stephon Clark 2018 and Breonna Taylor last March … This time sparkle however, a wave of protests sparked never before seen since the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
The message – police brutality against blacks is the result of racism originating in US institutions – is not new. It has been worn for years, especially by the collective “Black Lives Matter” (“The blacks lives counting”), born in 2013 after the death of Trayvon Martin, a black teen who was killed by a Florida vigil. It is rather his reception that has changed.
“White silence is violence”
You just have to observe the audience composition in the demonstrations. Never before have so many white people – especially young people – joined the anger of black people. “White silence is violence,” can be read on dozens of posters in the parades. Upon request, these white Americans explain how much they have thought about their own role lately and how they try to be “allies” of the black cause. “I will put my body between the police and the black protesters if necessary, because I am statistically less likely to be killed when I do,” said a student in France 24 Monday before the White House.
This audience, more diverse than ever, was recalled by a series of surveys published in recent days. Everyone points in the same direction: American opinion has changed. ONE ABC News / Ipsos survey is instructive in this regard: 74% of Americans believe that George Floyd’s death is a sign of a bigger problem in police treatment of blacks. Only 43% thought the same thing in 2014, when the Ferguson riots followed Michael Brown’s death.
Today, “Black Lives Matter” is no longer considered a radical movement. Those who oppose “All Lives Matter,” which was often the case among Republicans during the 2016 presidential election, are more discreet. Is it without explaining that the slogan does not mean that black lives are counted more, but that it should count as much as the others? In any case, the young generation seems to have understood the message.
“A shouting cry for justice”
“Nobody says your life doesn’t count,”White singer Billie Eilish was annoyed last week. “Nobody says your life isn’t hard. Nobody says anything about you, literally,” the new 18-year-old American idol continued. “It’s not about you. Stop pretending it’s about you. You’re not in need. You’re not in danger. (…) If your friend makes a cut on your arm, you will wait to give all your friends a bandage first to “all arms counted”? “
Even Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate in 2012, joined the protesters this weekend. “Progress is a process. It is normal to go through awkward moments,” tweeted US leftist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday. The young Democrat in the House of Representatives notes that “Black Lives Matter” has always been a “cry for justice” but that “not too long ago”, “politicians were afraid there is a mistake in opinion polls, that it is for” difference factor “and that it requires “too much explanation”.
Among the strong symbols in recent days, knees, which have long been considered a radical gesture, are gaining more and more followers. In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, an American football player, had his knee on the ground during the national anthem to speak out against racism. The Right had regarded his initiative as an attack on the flag, Donald Trump had demanded a boycott by the National Football League, and the player had seen his sports career end earlier than expected. Police are kneeling on the ground today along with protesters. Leftist politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and Democratic candidate Joe Biden have done the same.
>> Read also: “George Floyd’s death: when the police kneel at the protesters’ request”
Business circles have not avoided this conversation either. Many brands, big and small, have published press releases to confirm their commitment to racism. On Monday, the Wall Street Stock Exchange observed eight minutes 46 seconds of silence. This is the time when the police pressed their knee to George Floyd’s neck. And June Dorsey, the head of Twitter, made June 19, the anniversary of the proclamations of emancipation to African-American slaves in Texas, a now holiday in the company. It will be “a day of celebration, education and bonding,” he tweeted. For its part, Adidas promised Tuesday that 30% of new jobs in the United States would be black or Latin people.
Awareness of police violence and duracism is such that some cities are beginning to think of concrete measures – hitherto unthinkable – proposed by the collective Black Lives Matter. The Minneapolis City Council, the site of George Floyd’s murder, surprised everyone by announcing the dismantling of their police services. In Los Angeles, the mayor proposed redirecting $ 100-150 million from the police budget into programs that benefit color communities. The San Francisco mayor made a similar announcement. On the question of Joe Biden, who has so far supported the George Floyd family, rejected the idea. Rather, the former vice president plans to “reform” the police.
Donald Trump and “Law and Order”
Five months before the presidential election, there is an undeniable change in the United States, with an anti-racist movement more powerful than ever, carried by the young generation and supported by a majority of Americans. However, it is impossible to conclude the November election.
Donald Trump, who presents himself as the guarantor of “law and order,” has certainly seen his popularity rating drop in opinion polls against Joe Biden. ONE American media He understands that he is holding a speech on race conditions in the country, prepared by Stephen Miller, his strong anti-immigration adviser, who is responsible for the separation of migrant families at the border. What consolidates the opinion of those who accuse the president of being racist himself. The fact remains that it was thanks to a largely white voter that he reached the White House in 2016.