NDLS Dean G. Marcus Cole: “I am George Floyd. Except, I can breathe. And I can do something.” // News // de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture // University of Notre Dame

As an African-American man, I have had the experience of being pulled over by a police officer, with no apparent or expressed reason for the stop. I have been berated and verbally abused, without receiving a ticket or a warning. The most scarring of these events occurred in front of my two little boys, who are now grown, African-American men themselves. The police officer was intent on nothing more than humiliating and emasculating me in front of my small children, hoping to provoke me to respond. At that moment, I remember thinking that the most important thing I could do for my sons was to survive the encounter. Still, I have often thought about what lasting scars may have cut into their psyche by watching what that officer did to me that night. I often wonder what my sons think of me, as a man, and as their protector, knowing that I could not fight back.

Yes, I am alive, and George Floyd is dead. I can breathe; he cannot. But just because a police officer did not murder me or my children does not mean that he did not harm us.

Like many African-American men, my experiences are far too common. While they have never left me, these memories are all too frequently brought back to the surface by watching the videos that have become routine on American televisions and mobile telephones. The callous murders of unarmed men like Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd are real for me. That could have been my father. That could have been me. That could be either one of my sons. And in a very real sense, like many other African-American men, I am George Floyd. Except, I can breathe. And I can do something. I must do something.
— Read on ethicscenter.nd.edu/news/ndls-dean-g-marcus-cole-i-am-george-floyd-except-i-can-breathe-and-i-can-do-something/