The cell phone video of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes as he begged for air sparked protests against police brutality and systemic racism across the country, as chants of "Say his name!" and "I can't breathe!" have become oft-heard rallying cries at demonstrations and photos and murals of his face have been plastered on walls and signs in cities everywhere.
But as much as the protests and anger are about this one incident, for black Americans especially, it's about more than just George Floyd. It's about the other black men and women who have become household names because they died at the hands of -- Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and others. It's about the black men and women whose names aren't commonly known but still died in police custody. It's about Christian Cooper, the Central Park birdwatcher who had the police called on him after he asked a white woman to leash her dog (because it’s the law), Ahmaud Arbery who was shot to death in Georgia while out for a run by two white men who thought he was a burglar and everyone who has also had whiteness weaponized against them but hasn't made national news.
It's been a reminder for black Americans about their own interactions with systemic racism and the painful, often dehumanizing feelings that stirs up. Our colleage, KPCC's Austin Cross shared his personal story in an essay he wrote for LAist this week about the first time he realized he was black and the first time he experienced racism with law enforcement.
Today on AirTalk, we're opening up our phones for our black listeners to share how they're processing the last few days -- we want to hear your personal stories. What are the feelings this has brought to the fore for you? How has it reminded you of your own encounters with racism in society, both in law enforcement and outside? If you have been part of the protests, peaceful or otherwise, what are your specific reasons for protesting?