How White People Can Know if They Have Learned Anything.

The truth is, if you have not recognized that this particular event--the video-recording of George Floyd being murdered by a police officer--as being different, you need to consider the situation a little more or bury your head deeper into the earth's crust.


Yes, we all say that we are so upset by the shooting of unarmed black men in America, but the physicality of this event--the actual physical nature of this assault is shocking. Being shot is still sort of a distant, hands-off event. I get it: you aim this tiny apparatus at a person, and activate a tiny explosion that sends a small piece of aerodynamic metal cutting through the air and into the flesh of a human being. Horrible? Yes. But also, more akin to that experiment where the participants in a separate room were asked to increase the electrical shock when the subjects of the experiment answered a question incorrectly. This sort of distance from violence or from murder is much more easily accomplished when people interact from an obvious distance. Instead, in the case of George Floyd, we might as well have been watching the police strangle a man with two hands around the neck; watching an officer squeeze the life out of the hand-cuffed man on the ground. And there is something more real and more visceral about human to human direct contact, something startling about witnessing the actual murder of one human being by another, who is just suffocating the victim.

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