This essay is 526 words long. It is 526 words because that is how many seconds are in eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds is the time it took former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin to murder Mr. George Floyd. As if observing a Black man slowly robbed of his life and dignity was not enough torture, I endured a video by Candace Owens, a political grifter, who criminalized Mr. Floyd and minimized his death. I forced myself to watch her video, despite her anti-Blackness vitriol, because of a recent exchange with a White woman and member of a historical White sorority. She said we should not focus on color because it is divisive. Since everyone’s lives matter, there is no need to highlight one group’s struggle over the other; we can all overcome our situation if we work together, because, all lives matter. She noted her Black friends, whom she “enjoyed,” agree with her perspective. I watched Owens’ video because I needed to know what her “Black friends” may sound like. It is hard for me to grasp how Owens, and other Black people like her, could be so callous and tarnish the reputation of a Black man the entire galaxy saw unjustly murdered by the police.
Chauvin and Owens represent a cross-section of our fraternity and sorority communities. There are men and women within fraternities and sororities (undergraduates and alumni, volunteers and staff) filled with evil and self-hatred. They disguise their prejudice and racist attitudes using skewed logic, misrepresented facts, and a pseudo interest in humanitarian work. They deflect, project, discredit and use litigation to discourage and suppress perspectives that may expose their racist tendencies. Their attitudes persist unchecked, wreaking trauma on marginalized people because those in positions to do something stand idle. Confrontation, as scary and uncomfortable as it is, is necessary to impact change. If you are in a position to stop this vicious cycle, do your part and take action! Call out racist and oppressive behavior, even when it comes from your friends! Quit rationalizing the oppressor’s actions and demonizing the oppressed. If you think like Owens, you missed the point of the Black community’s outrage. It doesn’t matter if Mr. Floyd had a criminal record, the situation did not warrant his death. Don’t tell a Black person to understand the point of view of their oppressor. Your pseudo supportive words revictimize Black people who endure mistreatment regularly. This line of questions and thought process only help you (White professionals and the Candace Owens in the field) avoid doing the work to support marginalized people. And let’s be honest, some of you reading these 526 words ARE perpetrators of this trauma. You do not realize this because you think of yourselves as good people who are incapable of a racist act. But you see, being a good person and being racist are not mutually exclusive; I’m sure a racist person is good to those he or she believes are people and worthy of respect. Remember, every time you justify a racist’s behavior or minimize the trauma a Black person feels, you are complicit in our erasure.