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Letter: Experiencing a wake-up call

May 25, 2020, was the day I woke up. I watched on TV the video of George Floyd, a Black man being murdered in Minneapolis, by a white police officer in broad daylight, with witnesses yelling at him, “He’s dying,” while being videotaped. The officer had George Floyd pinned to the ground with his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. I was horrified, I cried. I had seen white policemen kill Black men on the news. But those videos were only seconds long. That was not enough time to sink into my brain what I was seeing. I was numb to those pictures. I am not Black; I don’t know the pain of a Black person, and I didn’t know the daily fears they live with.

The day George Floyd died, I was given a glimpse into Black people’s pain, and I hurt. I knew I lived in a discriminatory country, and I didn’t know if it would ever go away.

On June 17, a Black woman, a friend of mine, said to me, “When we say Black lives matter, we are not saying we matter more than other lives. It’s about the fact that Black lives are being threatened on a daily basis and have been for our lifetimes.” She went on to say, “Jesus is heartbroken at the abuse and mistreatment of people of color. Jesus ended the debate when he died on the cross. He died for everyone; everyone matters. But, humans with their inhumanity continue to go against his values.” I had to agree with her.

I read about slavery and the Civil War and the decades of Black people protesting to be treated like a human. My heart sank into depression. I couldn’t even read about the injustice, and yet, they have to live it. I was screaming inside my head, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

After George Floyd was killed, we began to see changes in our country daily to let people of color know we hear them, and we, too, want their lives to be valued.

Our police departments are filled with outstanding police officers who care to do good to protect us. They risk their lives every day they go to work for us. We will never be unprotected. When our police departments are reformed, we will continue to respect our police officers and keep them in high regard.

The changes that need to be made may take a generation growing up in a society free of fear.

I want to support change in my country however I can. Praying is the first thing I do, and submitting this letter is the next thing. If I don’t support change in my country, then I am saying, “Black people do not matter.”

Dody Johnson

Albert Lea