Floyd, Arbery, Taylor & the Language of the Unheard
Amid nationwide protests spurred by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, a 1967 speech by King at Stanford University has resurfaced for its perennial wisdom.
The "Other America"' speech was recently shared on Twitter by the King Center, the organization set up by Coretta Scott King to honor her late husband.
In the speech, King emphasized his support for nonviolent tactics in the "struggle for freedom and justice" and expressed his disapproval for riots, referring to them as "socially destructive.”
King, however, argues that worsening economic and social conditions that black Americans experience must be condemned as equally as riots.
It is here he invokes the line: "A riot is the language of the unheard."
“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”
Association for Global New Thought Leadership Council member, Rev. Dr. David Alexander of the Atlanta Spiritual Living Center, makes this observation:
“We must come to the understanding that every time we are outraged it is because we have been asked to accept a normal that is not natural. Racism is not natural. Injustice is not natural. Indifference to the inhumane treatment of black and brown bodies is not natural. White supremacy is not natural. For too long humanity has been conditioned into this unnatural state called “normal.”
Yet we have also been given the tools to change it. It’s time that we rise as a human family and address these issues head on as manifestations of a misguided mindset that has been in place for hundreds of years.
Consciousness created the place we find ourselves and consciousness with right action, can change it.”
By now, I think we all know that it's not an individual officer, or a specific city council, or even a political party that operates in a miraculous vacuum contrary to the prevailing social norm of civil dysfunction. This is a systemic issue that sits within a culture of racism, inertia, and lack of political vision on all sides. Swinging the pendulum between one worldview and the other is no solution to this human dilemma. If those who act criminally, and those who empower criminal behavior through defending the status quo cannot be motivated to become persons of better character, then what can we believe in?
AGNT Leader, Rev. Erin McCabe, senior minister at Unity Village Chapel at Unity World Headquarters put it in very simple and enlightening terms:
“What does it say about the state of our communities when a nine year old has to ask her mother: ‘Why didn’t someone push him off George’s neck?’”
Indeed, officers... “WHY?”
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Here are some hopeful signs from a major law enforcement organization and an local police chief about the George Loyd travesty:
Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) is a professional association of Chiefs and Sheriffs representing the largest cities in the United States and Canada.
REGARDING THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD
The death of Mr. Floyd is deeply disturbing and should be of concern to all Americans.
The officers’ actions are inconsistent with the training and protocols of our profession and MCCA commends Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for his swift and decisive action to terminate the employment of the officers involved.
MCCA members have worked tirelessly to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. What occurred in Minneapolis is a sobering reminder of how quickly bad policing can undermine that trust. The law enforcement community must do better and hold ourselves to a higher standard.
We extend our deepest condolences to the Floyd family and will lift them up in prayer during this difficult time.
Message from Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow
Regarding the Death of George Floyd.
SANTA BARBARA, CA – Thursday, May 28, 2020 @ 10:30 P.M.
A Signed Letter from City of Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow….
“Certain events in policing, whether involving police action or inaction, evoke such a depth of emotion that I feel a moral imperative to address them. I believe this to be the responsibility of all police leaders, whether the message is to defend unpopular actions of police officers, or, as in the case of George Floyd, bring attention to harmful and hurtful actions by officers whose poor decisions tarnish the profession. I am deeply disturbed by Mr. Floyd’s death. It was preventable and should not have happened.
Police officers have a duty to uphold the law. I expect our officers, myself included, to apply the law in a way that prioritizes and respects the sanctity of life. That includes a duty to intervene when officers are acting outside of the law or policy. It is our policy and our moral obligation.”