Below are the words of Chicago actor James Vincent Meredith, who shared his thoughts on the murder of George Floyd on Facebook. It is worth reading in its entirety. With his permission, it’s re-posted here for those who don’t have access to his page.
I can’t say it any better or artfully than anyone else. I’m not gonna dig into our history for a quote no one has heard yet. I’m not typing this from a protest though I am 1000% behind everyone out there risking their lives for change. I’m not burning up twitter saying anything groundbreaking or new though I admire and read everything that lifts up black women and black girls and black men and black boys and not just because I am one and have one and worry about him so much.
All i can think about is how long 8 minutes and 46 seconds is. That’s a really long time. You should honestly set a timer to see how long that is. Like, you should do it now. You’ll probably check your email, see who liked what, read more about why we’re crying out and breaking windows and screaming out loud and if we’re not screaming out loud for the people in the back we’re crying inside in our houses or apartments when it’s late and everyone has gone to sleep. Maybe you’ll go back to that puzzle for a second and find that piece and pop it in with a smile. Then you’ll check your FB or twitter and see if more people liked that on point thing you posted. Then maybe go pee. Check your head because you thought you had a slight fever earlier and you were freaking out a little because Covid but nope, you’re fine after all.
And then look at that timer and see that probably not even 7 minutes has gone by. And George Floyd still had almost 2 more minutes to suffer, but he was probably already dead, and that white cop was probably thinking about what he might eat after he finished the paperwork on this one.
8:46. Another black man down.
I have a wide swath of “friends” on FB. Some I knew from grammar school or high school or college. Some from shows I’ve worked on locally and nationally. Some family members and friends from my side and some from my beautiful wife’s side. Some of you I wouldn’t know if I saw you on the street. Some I’ve known my whole life. And you have different backgrounds and political beliefs. But you have me in common. A black man who could be snuffed out at anytime (yes, even in the suburbs) for no reason but his color. A black father of a black child who will one day no longer be looked at as a sweetheart, but a threat. And it’s a fact that it will happen. It breaks my heart. But it also makes me angry.
And no matter what your background, you know that anger. It’s an anger that comes from feeling that no matter what you do, you can’t bring her back or take back what you said or make him get better or beat this cancer or make them pay. And so you pray but you also scream or punch the air or stomp or cry at the injustice. You demand to be heard by someone. Anyone. That’s what black people are doing. And some of us are doing it in big ways that demand attention and respect. Some are doing it in small ways that demand attention and respect. A lot of us are preaching to the choir.
But I’m also speaking to “friends” I’m not tight with. Who aren’t in my theatre circles, or maybe neighbors, or people who I didn’t grow up with, or who I grew up with but have split from me as far as what we believe. No man deserves a knee in the neck for 8:46. Or 5:46. Or really 1:46. (It’s longer than you think) Don’t assassinate his character or his history or what he was doing wrong because it will make it easier for you to reconcile him getting tortured and murdered by a white man. See it for the murder it is. See these protests for the crying out that George Floyd couldn’t do. See these protests as crying out in the names of the thousands of black people who weren’t “lucky” enough to be recorded. Crying out in the names of Garner, McDonald, Rice, Scott, Bland, Castile, Gray, Sterling…and We shouldn’t know these names off the top of our heads like we do. Crying out.
8:46. Seriously, just as an exercise, set your iPhone timer. It’s torture and it’s murder and it has to stop.
–James Vincent Meredith, June 2, 2020
If you feel inspired, please consider making a donation to the ACLU, or other civil rights org of your choice.