100,000 and One
We’ve endured 100,000 deaths. We’ve endured a deficit, no, a travesty, of Presidential leadership. We’ve endured a lack of preparedness. We’ve endured cavalier dismissals, “We’ve got it all under control.”
We’ve endured a lack of testing and an absence of equipment. We’ve endured a Presidential compassion deficit and humanity vacuum. We’ve endured a Republican leadership that is more concerned about protecting businesses from liability than it is concerned about protecting workers from death. We’ve endured.
But George Floyd’s death was one death too many.
Maybe because the other deaths have been so lovingly and patiently and heroically cared for by the exhausted, by those on bended knee, by those overwhelmed by the suffering. And now this death comes with a quite different bended knee. A knee of brutality. A knee of heedless cruelty. A knee that says, “we’re in control here — and don’t you forget it.”
So many deaths held tenderly in our common humanity. And then one (more) that denies it all.
One death too many at the hands of those who are pledged “to serve and protect.” One death too many in the long string of police and civilian killings of black people. One death too many in videotaped — plain as your hand before your face — outrages.
One death too many.
Something had to break. Something had to give. And now it has. Now it is.
We’ve endured a feckless President. We’ve endured cynical Republican leadership. We endured a President who is pre-occupied with petty concerns, his tweets and his detractors. We’ve endured those who keep on fiddling while America burns.
But one death has tipped, is tipping, the balance. The held grief and anger over COVID, the repressed grief and rage over racism and a society stacked against the ordinary person — a fire fanned by, and at which the current occupant of the White House has warmed himself — is boiling over.
Yes, I know, these “crises,” these “events” come and go with the news cycle. Maybe this one will have no more staying power than others. Maybe it too will be swept downstream in the 24/ 7 news cycle and by the next crisis, the next outrage.
But in the meantime, get to know a little about who George Floyd was. A man who was known in Houston’s tough Third Ward as a “person of peace.”
And get to know a little about ourselves and why we want police to be “tough,” and why we are so quick to defend them and excuse them.
Get to know how, on top of 100,000 deaths, one more — this one more — pushes us now to some dangerous, hopeful edge.
The answer is not “order.” The answer is outrage.