The former President and First Lady, Michelle and Barack Obama have expressed grief over the recent killing of George Floyd, as well as other black men and women in recent weeks.
The first lady took to instagram to express her concern saying, “Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies,” she wrote. “And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop.” Obama went on to mention Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery as well as Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and Michael Brown. “It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it,” she wrote. “It’s up to all of us, Black, white, everyone and no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.”
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Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us. Artwork: @nikkolas_smith
She continued, “It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.” Michelle ended on a hopeful note, saying she prays “we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.”
In the same vein, her husband, former President Barack Obama, shared a similar notion on Twitter, saying “It can’t be ‘normal,” speaking about racism in the US, “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
My statement on the death of George Floyd: pic.twitter.com/Hg1k9JHT6R— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 29, 2020
Both statements came against the backdrop of a series of violent protests across the nation, as people mourn and show their anger over the death of George Floyd, a 46year old black man who died on Monday after he was pinned to the ground, handcuffed and unarmed by a police officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he cried out, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd’s death is one of others of what many say is a disturbing trend of police using lethal force against black people. The protests in Minneapolis have drawn comparisons to those in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer.
It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal”, whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park,” read Obama’s statement, which also acknowledged the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and a recent racially heightened threat at Central Park between a white woman and a Black bird watcher.
Obama ended his message calling for justice for Floyd’s death and reiterating that violent acts of racism can no longer be tolerated in America and beyond.
“It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done,” declared Obama. “But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station—including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts”.
Their overall emotions regarding the tragedy carried the same message: Black Americans are exhausted, tired, and ashamed of how little progress has been made to protect Black lives in the United States.