Eight minutes and 46 seconds.
The thought of a human being's breathing being restricted for 8 minutes and 46 seconds is agonizing. I cannot describe the act of kneeling on an individual's neck for that long as anything but inhumane. Sickness overcomes me every time I see the video of the officer kneeling on George Floyd's neck; the pain I feel never changes no matter how many times I view it.
We are living in a world where “I can't breathe” is symbolic of police brutality. As concise and clear as those words are to everyone regardless of race, there is still a level of gross negligence by police to hear those words and stop restricting the breathing of the person they are apprehending.
The truth is, African Americans have been unable to breath for generations. The criminal justice system has had its knee on our necks for far too long.
Eight minutes and 46 seconds is the amount of time it took the world to wake up as it triggered widespread protests and cries of outrage. There is absolutely no excuse for the blatant disregard for Black lives in America. We've reached the point where technology is crucial in cases of police brutality with video recordings serving as a voice for the voiceless.
I fear that without those recordings there is no hope for justice and equality, which makes me question the true effectiveness of body cams. When I think about how light was shed on the case of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and all of the other brutal killings only because of recordings from a cell phone, I lose some hope in humanity and people's ability to do the right thing.
One cannot help but think of all of the Black lives lost at the hands of the police that weren't recorded for the world to see; the hashtags are endless.
I also have come to the realization that racism is deeply rooted in police culture. There is knowledge within each department of police brutality cases and police shootings involving African Americans, but they still make the conscious decision not to pursue and investigate. The words “cleared of all wrong doing” send chills down my spine as I witness another one of my people's lives taken and another murderer walk free. The news has been filled with peaceful protests, looting and violence - everyone expressing their pain differently.
Despite the outrage I feel, I don't believe in combating violence with violence. Historically, we have tried to fight back with violence and peace, but the change we have seen is minimal. The solution is to enact changes in policies and laws to hold the people who commit these hate crimes accountable.
My generation - right now - is the future; we are the future teachers, lawyers, judges, doctors, presidents and every profession we ever dreamed of. We are living in the now, we are witnessing these events in real time, and it is our duty to be informed and take a stand in the fight for justice.
We must put ourselves in positions to ensure change will occur. We must look at these situations in their totality, and use our knowledge and power to reform a system that was never meant to serve us. Through solidarity, we possess the power to fight back and reshape our futures.
Most importantly, we must never forget how eight minutes 46 seconds changed the world and we must never stop saying their names.