When Thomas Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal”, did he really mean it? Throughout the history of the United States of America, there has been a constant push for equality. From the women’s suffragist movement to the civil rights movement, or more recently the LGBTQ+ movement, countless minority groups have struggled to gain their own “unalienable rights” that are enshrined in our Constitution.
While the goal of my blog is primarily to talk about under-represented issues in the media through the lens of a Hyphenated American, I think that the passing of George Floyd should be an exception.
On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 and told the police that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life. After a video of the incident was posted on Facebook, protests began almost immediately in Minneapolis and quickly spread across the nation. Demonstrators chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” took to the streets from coast to coast, and police departments around the country responded at times with riot-control tactics. Floyd’s murder came on the heels of similar protests over the killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta in February and that of Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March.
George Floyd, like many others, was a Hyphenated American. As an African-American, he was targeted for his hyphen, and it cost him his life. It is a sad fact of life today that so many other stories like George Floyd exist, and that there are still people who are not able to accept all Hyphenated Americans as simply Americans. We are all equal, regardless of skin tone, religion, sexual orientation, or any other such factor. I truly hope that we can strive together to help fight against this long-prevailing injustice in our nation, so that everyone can be truly equal.
When Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal” in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, he did not mean individual equality. His claim was that American colonists, the people, had the same rights to self-governance as others. This is 2020. We’ve been an independent nation for close to 250 years now. High time “all men are created equal” starts to represent individual equality in our country. Till then, we still can’t breathe.