George Floyd’s words will forever be inscribed in our minds and in our hearts. The refrain ‘I can’t breathe’ is haunting on so many levels. What I find particularly haunting about his final words is the larger context in which this horrific incident occurred.
For the last three months, the global media have been focused almost exclusively on reporting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a virus that affects the respiratory system and lung functioning – in other words, our capacity to breathe.
Although no one knows when the world will be free of COVID-19, a massive global effort is currently underway to rid the globe of this virus. Billions of dollars have been poured into the search for a vaccine, scientists are examining potential therapies to treat COVID-19, and the world is pulling together to defeat this global threat. But what efforts are being made to rid the world of the other virus in our midst – the endemic racism that killed George Floyd?
I have every confidence that we will eventually overcome COVID-19. World leaders have already demonstrated their commitment to ensuring that is the case, but unless an equal amount of energy is expended on rooting out racism, the George Floyd’s among us will still be unable to breathe.