Ayanna Pressley: ‘Black Pain Has Been Delegitimized Since the Inception of This Country’

by Yah Yah
Ayanna Pressley

Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts has been deeply affected by the death of George Floyd, much like the majority of the nation — and she feels that the dismissal of Black pain has been a longstanding issue throughout society.

“The day after [George Floyd’s homicide], I had put up a thread on my Twitter and I said, ‘Just for a moment I’d like to deviate from the onslaught of images of Black men being choked, brutalized, surveyed, profiled, policed, lynched, murdered,'” she told Rolling Stone.

“And I created this timeline on Black boy joy and Black man joy, and it did go viral, but some people responded that they thought it was tone deaf. And I said, ‘This is what we’re managing, that we would retweet what [rapper and activist] Killer Mike referred to as ‘murder porn,’ and then wonder when is the right time to promote our humanity, to promote our joy, our healing.”

The imagery of Black men and women being killed at the hands of the police is becoming more prevalent as the days go on. While Black Lives Matter has helped to ignite a more ardent pursuit for justice within the Black community, it has also swelled an irrational fear of retribution from some members of the white population — leading to an increase in police violence as well as lynching across the country.

The tragic death of George Floyd has been viewed millions of times on social media — and videos of police officers and anti-Black Lives Matter activists have posted countless minutes mocking the unjustified killing of the unarmed Black man.

It took officer Derek Chauvin 8 minutes and 46 seconds to suffocate Floyd to death.

“I’ve been guilty myself of watching those things on repeat. And I think you’re trying to reconcile something, or — here’s the thing, to be Black in America is to have your pain delegitimized,” she explains. “Black pain has been delegitimized since the inception of this country. And we see that embedded across every issue. Where it might be more obvious is in police brutality and in our health care system. And that’s why there has not been justice.”

Pressley insists that change needs to happen and fast. We’re inclined to agree.

“This is the time for overhaul. Folks talk about how they can’t wait till COVID is behind us so we can return to normal. There’s no returning to normal. The normal was insufficient, it was unjust, and it wasn’t adequate to begin with.”

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