Statement from CWA Local 1180 President Gloria Middleton on the Killing of George Floyd & Baseless Hatred

In the last six months, our country and the entire world have banded together over a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 300,000 souls from this world. During this tragic time, we have found the commonality amongst us that allowed each of us as individuals, and together as a collective whole, to persevere and overcome what has truly been one of the worst health crises we have seen in recent history.

In the United States, for three long and grueling months, most of us have been living under stay-at-home orders, turning our lives upside down to make sure that we, our families, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, all remained healthy – and alive. Yet, now, just as we are nearing the end of this horrifying pandemic and our city and country are beginning to reopen and return to some form of normalcy, life is once again crashing in around us, and people are dying, black people.

Why? Because of Baseless Hatred. The fact that too many white Americans hate black Americans simply based on the color of their skin. We’ve seen this time and time again. Rodney King. Eric Garner. Ahmaud Arbery. And now George Floyd. All black men. All killed by white police.

America is in trouble. The outright, horrific brutality that we see some police officers repeatedly impose on black men is despicable. Yes, we have a huge problem with our country’s police force. When cops believe they are the judge and jury, the be-all-and-end-all of the American justice system, there is clearly a problem. They have no right to take matters into their own hands and kill black men and women “just because” and then think they can get away with it since they are white. This shows how little value is placed on the life of a black person – someone who just might be your neighbor – out for a jog. Someone’s child, brother, husband, father.

But the real problem is that America does not have a plan to correct these 400-plus years of disparate treatment on all levels for black Americans. Our country has a deep-rooted systemic problem going back as far as slavery when blacks were bought and sold as free labor to build this country. Black men and women have been killed for no apparent reason for decades. The only difference now is that everyone has a smart phone and records it. The proof lies in the video – and that’s what is so maddening! Even with hardcore proof in many cases, the justice system still does not work for black Americans.

We are tired of hearing the promises of politicians who are beholden to corporate America and refuse to do what is needed to bring about real change. It’s one thing to talk the talk; it’s another to walk the walk. Martin Luther King Jr. knew it in the 1960s when he said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” If he were still alive today, while things might be different under his staunch leadership for the black population, it’s more likely he would be cringing about how little has really changed in 60 years.

Black Americans are tired of hearing that all lives matter because if that were true, then black lives would matter, too. But they don’t. As a country, we need to recognize the problem and stop the lynchings. That knee on George Floyd’s neck only replaces the rope they used to hang us with years ago. These inequities must end. The White House must stop painting us as thugs, and so, too, must the media. America must understand that black people are tired of sitting back, being quiet, and going along with the status quo. It’s not going to work anymore.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter,” King said. And I agree. So, it’s time to #speakout, #standup, and let the world know that while #alllivesmatter, so, too, do #BlackLivesMatter!