My maternal grandfather’s family name is Floyd.  His mother was a Cherokee woman and Grandfather Floyd’s cousin was from the Choctaw nation.  The cousin was considered the Robin Hood of the American Great Depression and was immortalized in song by Woody Guthrie as Pretty Boy Floyd the Outlaw.  I do not know if there is a blood link between Grandpa’s interracial family and the family of George Floyd.  Cousin Charles, a criminalized Injun who robbed banks and gave money to poor farmers about to lose their land and hones, was murdered by an FBI agent for a crime he did not commit. Pretty Boy was executed as he lay on the ground wounded.

Was he a good man, fully a human being?
Was he a bad man, a conflicted individual?
It never mattered.
He was a Black Man.
Now he is dead.

He did not die of natural causes.
He died from the cancer of history.
He was killed by the politics of race.
Right here.  Here,
in the shadow of the American Dream.

There is a diving line, stretching
from border to border, running
from coast to coast. And
everyone one of us knows this.
We grow up with it, carrying
fear and hatred for generations.
Practicing the privilege of silence, ignoring
the collective outcry, not sharing
the heritage of pain.

Racial injustice, death
is part of us, of who we are
in our democracy of inequality. This,

the America
we swear to defend and love
without loving our neighbors
without defending against murder by color.

So—
was Mr. Floyd a good man?
It did not matter.
Was Mr. Floyd a bad man, profiled
by his skin.
George Floyd was a Black Man
Now George is dead.

David Sparenberg is a world citizen, environmental & peace advocate & activist, actor, poet-playwright, storyteller, teacher and author.


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