Non-black folks also need to help root out racism, former first lady Michelle Obama said this week while speaking out over the death of George Floyd.
Obama expressed grief over the recent killing of Floyd, as well as other black men and women in recent weeks, in a Facebook post on Friday.
“Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies,” she wrote. “And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop.”
Obama went on to mention Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and Michael Brown.
“It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it,” she wrote. “It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.”
She continued, “It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.”
Obama concluded on a hopeful note, saying she prays “we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.”
Her statements came as her husband, former President Barack Obama, shared similar sentiments on Twitter.
“It can’t be ‘normal,’” the former president wrote, speaking about racism in the US. “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
Both statements come against the backdrop of sometimes violent protests across the nation, as people mourn and show their anger over the death of Floyd. Floyd, 46, died Monday after he was pinned to the ground – handcuffed and unarmed – by a police officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he cried out, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd’s death is one of several of what many say is a disturbing trend of police using lethal force against black people. The protests in Minneapolis have drawn comparisons to those in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer.