Letter: 8:46, a note to critics


Letter writer Antonio Ball declares that George Floyd’s last moments are what defines the purpose of the movement, not his past. 

Antonio Ball

Of course, “8:46” alludes to the time that Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J.A Kueng had pressed their bodies on a Black man, who was handcuffed, put to the ground, calling out for his mother and slowly suffocated to death.

His name is George Floyd.

I just got done watching an 18-minute video by Candace Owens on YouTube. I was trying to avoid it for a while. I knew immediately I had to share my thoughts. In the video, she states that she does not support George Floyd because he shouldn’t have been the martyr to rally around for Black people to combat racial injustice. She cited some accusations of an insidious past.

First off, we didn’t make him a martyr, you did, like so many others before and, unfortunately, after him.

Malcolm X had a famous diatribe against critics of his “Any Means Necessary” approach when combating for the means of Black liberation, describing the conditions between The “Field Negro” and the “House Negro” during the era of slavery. The Field Negro, whose circumstances were abhorrent — beaten mercilessly and worked endlessly, raped and tortured — dreamed of the very day they would finally achieve liberation, freedom by any means necessary.

The House Negro, while suffering similar conditions, was treated with a little more dignity (at least, that’s what they thought). The House Negro could enter the master chambers, was given scraps and some run-down clothes and offered a place to rest their weary head. Still beaten, battered, bruised and raped, however. When the day of liberation finally came, and the master’s house was burning, it was The House Negro who worked harder than the master to put out the fire. This diatribe is still evident and very much alive today.

I don’t care about Floyd’s past.

I don’t care if he did drugs or if he was a sex worker.

The fact remains: like so many Black bodies before him and after, he suffered the cruel fate of a justice system, of an institution, of a country which has repeatedly beaten, tortured, murdered and betrayed him.

We never claimed George Floyd as a perfect saint. We never said he was to begin with. His last gasp screamed for the comfort of his mother. He knew his death was inevitable. He was a son like Breonna Taylor was a daughter. Like so many Black sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, nieces and nephews, friends and acquaintances, brother and sisters, he was a human being, but he was slaughtered like an animal.

When the feats of injustice become so overwhelming, our fellow human beings’ cries and pleas are consistently ignored. That sadness turns to rage and that rage turns into destruction. So Ms. Owens, like many critics before and after her, has missed the point of this whole event.

This wasn’t a riot… This was a backlash, this is a protest…

That with loud and thunderous roars scream: “Stop killing us…”

Antonio Ball is a senior in sociology and women’s and gender studies.