White society is also responsible for Floyd’s death

As I watched the George Floyd video, it broke me. I felt rage, but also guilt. Why did this instance of brutality gut me when the others for so many years did not?

I think this time is an inventory moment for me. A moment to think of the ways my thoughts or lack of thought, my actions or lack of action, can in a small way add to the broken parts of my community or help repair them.

When I think about the guilt I feel, at first I think maybe I’m being ridiculous, but then I think … maybe I’m right. Maybe this is the way we are all responsible for Floyd’s death.

Thoughts have weight. Inaction has mass. Not a heaviness that is easy to see, but one that when added together over years, through generations, become a hand on the shoulder of a police officer as his knee slowly pushes down on the neck of a man he doesn’t see as being fully human.

Our unmonitored thoughts, our unintended prejudices, and our inaction are that hand and that extra small push that helps to end a life.

As a white person, I will always have some prejudice because of the time and society that I was born into.

If when walking down a dark street, I see a black man approaching me from behind and I feel more uncomfortable than if he were white, that might be something I can use.

If I decide to monitor and inventory my thoughts about race, I can try to identify the things that don’t belong.

If I look hard at the moments I didn’t stand up when I should have, I can make a plan for the future.

Kevin Michael Breen


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