I’m writing this in response to the piece you published written by Hans Visser titled “Reflection on the murder of George Floyd.” I was disappointed to read these words. The letter detracts from the real issue of anti-black racism and redirects the reader to something else, something more white, something Mr. Visser would rather speak about.
While I don’t think this was Mr. Visser’s full intention, and I have full respect for his right to his opinion, intentions don’t really matter. But what does matter is that this letter serves more like a soapbox for religion than it does for any meaningful commentary on the senseless murder of a black man.
Mr. Visser speaks of respect for life and protecting the most vulnerable. But he fails to acknowledge that black people are vulnerable in our society because this society has been built to ensure the success of white people with little regard to anyone else. So if you do want to protect vulnerable people, support and protect black people in their fight against racial injustices.
George Floyd was only mentioned once before changing the subject to abortions, Nazis, and religion. This is not what this letter should be about.
Mr. Visser’s use of this platform to promote his “moral consciousness and virtue” is disrespectful to George Floyd and every other black person who has been murdered because they are black. George Floyd died for no justifiable reason. He had a family, a life, hopes, and dreams. He was a person!
He died because of the systemic racism that white people allow to continue when we ignore black people, their experience, their triumphs, and their pain. He died because it’s easier for white people to do nothing, so that’s what we’ve been doing.
He died because white people, not unlike Mr. Visser, are uncomfortable confronting their own prejudices so they talk about something else. They redirect the conversation to something more comfortable, something that makes them feel like they’re a good person.
And I would never claim to be innocent of this because it’s something all of us are guilty of. But it’s time we collectively realize that this kind of behaviour isn’t acceptable.
World War Two was horrible, no one would ever deny that. My grandparents and countless family members lived through it in Holland, just like Mr. Visser. And I fully acknowledge the legacy of the pain they experienced.
But, the death of George Floyd and racism against black people has nothing to do with finding faith in the churches of the Netherlands during the Second World War. I’m sorry, but it’s not. So let’s end that here.
On the topic of protesters and rioters. Let them be angry. Let them fight for equality.
People are literally just asking to not be killed because of the colour of their skin. Seems more than reasonable to me. Should people be looting or destroying properties?
No. But, I implore those reading and blaming the violence on the protesters to do your research on who is doing the destroying and who is doing the looting. Check your facts.
Find multiple sources. Journalists and protesters are losing their eyes to rubber bullets shot directly at their faces. Children are being sprayed with tear gas. People are being beaten and pepper-sprayed by police for no justifiable reason. If you ask me, the protesters are not the problem here.
Please, please, please be more upset that people are being murdered and assaulted than you are about a window being smashed or a cop car being burnt.
So to all of the Mr. Vissers out there, the people who are made uncomfortable by me writing this, the people who would rather look the other way, who would rather change the subject and ignore the discrimination and violence that black people have been fighting against for hundreds of years: this is not me calling you out to make you angry or defensive, this is me calling you in to make a change.
None of us are ever too old to learn or to change our ways of thinking. I believe there’s something in the Bible, and I have a feeling a lot of those reading the Taber Times might seek solace in that book, about loving all of God’s children.
Love people and love all people. Confront the biases within you and your community and understand where they come from. To the white people, recognize your white privilege.
This doesn’t mean that your life hasn’t, isn’t, or won’t be hard. It just means that your life isn’t hard because of the colour of your skin.
Work toward compassion and understanding. It’s time to do the work. Become an ally. Become a good example. Discrimination in any form isn’t cool. Act with empathy, and act in ways that show you care about other people. Show that you care about black people because they matter. Black Lives Matter.
Yours in frustration, hope, and dialogue,