“I want to share parts of the conversations I’ve had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota,” he wrote.
My statement on the death of George Floyd: pic.twitter.com/Hg1k9JHT6R
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 29, 2020
The former president shared an excerpt from an email written by a middle-aged African American businessman: “I cried when I saw that video,” he told Obama. “It broke me down. The ‘knee on the neck’ is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help. People don’t care. Truly tragic.”
Obama also cited a song posted by Keedron Bryant, a 12-year-old gospel singer currently competing on the fourth season of NBC’s Little Big Shots. Bryant posted a video on Instagram of the song, with the gut-wrenching final line, “I just want to live.”
“The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same,” Obama said. “It’s shared by me and millions of others.”
“It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us,” he continued. “But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal,’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” he wrote. “It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”