8 minutes and 46 seconds: The murder of George Floyd and why the battle is one we all must fight

As I sit on the rocks on the beach gazing out at the ocean preparing to write in my journal, I consciously breathe in deeply; the air is familiar, the untamed briny scent mixed with the brilliant perfume of blooming flowers that only fills the air in the fertile late spring. The grass is tall and verdant and bends elegantly in the rich breeze. I can breathe. The din of the late afternoon by the sea is of course the glorious sounds of crashing waves, squawking seagulls, and children laughing as they bravely run into the water. I’m usually so charmed and comforted by the elegant dance of nature, but today, my mind needs to be soothed by my panacea, my lifeblood, my cure all: music. Very deliberately, I put on Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” widely regarded as one of the most iconic civil rights anthems, as well as one of my favourite songs. The emotion is not just in the heart-wrenching lyrics which simultaneously brim with hope whilst also being deeply sorrowful and filled with yearning for a life which is not afforded to people who are not white, but also in the way Cooke so expertly emotes and conveys the true pain of a marginalized existence.`

The song was recorded in 1962, and the fact that it’s 2020 and the present tense to describe the state of racial inequality is what weighs heavily on my mind. Cooke did not live long enough to see the change he sung so passionately about; in 1963, he was murdered in what is now widely regarded as a planned robbery in a lonely motel off a highway by the motel manager who claimed Cooke, who was known to carry large amounts of cash, had tried to sexually assault her, so she claimed to have shot him in self-defence. The evidence did not match her story, but she was believed, because he was black. Guilty until proven innocent, even though the money Cooke had earlier in the evening was missing. That didn’t matter. He was black.

“Then I go to my brother, and I say ‘brother, help me please’ but he winds up knocking me back down on my knees.” 

George Floyd was an African American man murdered on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota by a police officer who arrested him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill a a convenience store. The owner of the convenience store spoke highly of Floyd, and said that he was a regular costumer with whom he’d never had any problems; he was not there that day and it was a teenage employee who phoned the police as protocol when he thought the $20 bill was counterfeit. Four police arrived, and Floyd was handcuffed, knocked down to the ground, and a police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 48 seconds, cutting off his air supply whilst appearing so steely and devoid humanity.

Floyd begged for his life, repeatedly saying that he was in pain and could not breathe. Onlookers tried desperately to persuade the officer to take his knee off of Floyd’s neck to no avail, and the other three officers on the scene failed to intervene. Five minutes in, Floyd, whose mother passed away two years ago, called out to her and said “Mama, I’m through.” He then said his final words “Please, I can’t breathe.” He went limp, and the officer kept his knee on his neck for three more minutes, and his pulse was taken shortly after. There was none to be found, and an hour later, he was officially pronounced dead. Murdered. The police officer’s name does not deserve to be mentioned, and may he forever be known solo as the murderer of George Floyd.

“It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die, because I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky.” 

If there is such a thing as heaven, may Floyd be wrapped in his mother’s arms, enveloped in the love and protection that only a mother can provide. The very protection and love that was so cruelly denied to him in the last moments of his life.

And with that thought, I sigh heavily, close my journal, and wonder how many more will die. I ponder about what such an afterlife may be like, and in it I see all of the victims killed as a result of systemic racism singing songs of freedom with Sam Cooke. We must acknowledge it, speak about it, stand in solidarity, and honour that black lives matter. Systemic racism is a real. This is not just the fight for African-Americans, or for the country of America. This is my fight. This is your fight. This is our fight. This is the world’s fight. Enough is enough, and it’s time for the change that Sam Cooke crooned about decades ago to finally come to fruition.

Writers and bloggers: do you ever have this feeling?

I have notebooks upon notebooks and journals upon journals filled with writing, but I often struggle with posting things online. I’ve been blogging for years and years under various nom de plumes, and was a very partisan political columnist for a time under my real name. But.. somewhere along the way, I lost my courage. For some reason, I let whether people will care or not about what I write stop me from posting 99% of the time. The last post I wrote got a great reception on Facebook (not fabulous here on WP from other bloggers) and it was a bit odd (but in a very lovely way) to have people in the community I live in come up to me and say how much they enjoyed the piece and were moved by it. It both heartened me and made me a bit self-conscious. I suppose this is just a struggle I will have to overcome to share what I believe should be shared.

And here I am. Back again.

I accidentally logged into the wrong email account and was greeted by an email regarding this blog! I’ve had this blog for five years, however, I only blogged rather religiously about four summers ago, and then took the blog in another direction, and then another, and privated all of the posts, and then forgot all about it. “Write more, type less” describes the reticence of the last few years; I write in a physical journal rather than online. But I do believe I shall return to blogging. So hello!

Protected: The manifesto for the new vision for my blog.. That was interrupted by reveries at 4 AM.

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Various Buddhist groups in Nanaimo

I have emailed the following:

Saturday Morning Group

 

Emailed:

Saturday Morning Group

Buddha House
The Nanaimo Buddhist Meditation Group meets from 10:00 a.m. to noon at Buddha House, 587 Seventh Street. Although the group uses the Vietnamese Buddhist temple and follows Thich Nhat Hanh’s service ceremony, the meditators come from and study all different Buddhist traditions.  Contact by email at  nanaimobuddhistmeditationgroup@shaw.ca and view the website at nanaimobuddhistmeditationgroup.org/ ~ by donation (Dana)

Emailed:

Bowen Park Recreation Complex
2300 Bowen Rd., Nanaimo, BC

Tuesdays, 7-8:15pm
January 12 – February 15, 2016

Buddhist Meditation for Happiness

Buddhist meditations on compassion bring happiness and contentment to our daily life. Our mind, as well as our relationships to others are transformed in remarkable and surprising ways.

Emailed:

Monday Night Group

Monday 5:00 pm to 6:15/6:30 pm. This Sangha is in the Plum Village (Thich Nhat Hanh) Tradition: Sitting meditation 20 min, Dharma Sharing plus additional dharma practices (walking meditation, dharma readings, etc). Everyone is welcome to attend. Drop-ins are welcome. The location rotates so please contact Nadine for information on locations for this month. Contact: Nadine at nadine.schwager@gmail.com or 250-591-7590.

Emailed:

Tuesday Night Group

Meet at David Fisher’s, 181 Bird Sanctuary Drive, Tuesday at 7:15 pm to 9:15 pm Group Leader: David Fisher. The Nanaimo Dharma Practice Group is in the vipassana tradition but studies books and tapes from a variety of teachers e.g., Charlotte Joko Beck, Pema Chodron, and Jack Kornfield. The group meets from mid-September to the end of May. Contact: David at 250-754-2997 orpathways1@shaw.ca.

Emailed:

Island Dharma

NANAIMO

SATURDAY MORNING DHARMA
​AT 10:00AM
Description of classes can be found on website: http://www.islanddharma.com/about.html
There are no classes in January

Rotary Field House 
850 Third Street
Nanaimo, BC V9R 3K5

Emailed:

 

Tuesday Night Group

Meet at David Fisher’s, 181 Bird Sanctuary Drive, Tuesday at 7:15 pm to 9:15 pm Group Leader: David Fisher. The Nanaimo Dharma Practice Group is in the vipassana tradition but studies books and tapes from a variety of teachers e.g., Charlotte Joko Beck, Pema Chodron, and Jack Kornfield. The group meets from mid-September to the end of May. Contact: David at 250-754-2997 orpathways1@shaw.ca.