Celebrities speak out on Floyd’s death and racism in US

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/1 15:56:56

Police spray protesters with pepper spray during a demonstration over the killing of George Floyd by a policeman outside Minneapolis Third Police Precinct on Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: AFP

Famous celebrities including legendary athletes Michael Jordan and LeBron James, pop singer Taylor Swift and the daughter of the late Martin Luther King, have been weighing in on recent US protests, some of which turned violent after the death of African American man George Floyd, condemning the ingrained racism in the US.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan on Monday released a statement via the Jordan brand Twitter account voicing his pain, frustration and outrage over the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died on May 25 after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for several minutes.

The tragedy has sparked protests against racism in Minneapolis and other regions across the US.

"I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. I see and feel everyone's pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough," reads the statement.

He called for pressure to be put on US leaders to change the laws or vote for another leader to create systematic change so as to ensure justice for all people in the country.

As of press time, the tweet had received 61,700 likes.

Also, US pop icon Taylor Swift tweeted Friday in response to US President Donald Trump's controversial tweet about the protest that erupted in Minneapolis after Floyd's death, saying, "After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? 'When the looting starts the shooting starts'? We will vote you out in November." 

After the tweet went viral, it was "liked" 2.1 million times.

NBA star Lebron James on Sunday added his voice on the incident, asking, "Why doesn't America love us!?"

James has expressed his concern on Instagram, saying, "If you aren't with US, we aren't with you," supporting black men against racism.

Other athletes from the Los Angeles Lakers also addressed racism and other hurtful behavior in response to Floyd's death.

Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, tweeted Monday that "With the fierce urgency of now, America must begin the strategic, focused work of supplanting racism and white supremacy with truth, equity, justice and love. 400+ years of the trauma of racism is 400+ years too long. It never should have been."

Netizens extended their support for the celebrities and praised their bravery in taking a stand.

"While viruses do not differentiate between people (regardless of their rank, race and age), racism does," said a netizen.

Observers told the Global Times on Monday that the comments from the celebrities reflected frustration to the deep-rooted racism and inequality in the country.

The overt lack of respect for the black community, who deserve to be treated with dignity, finally led to the death of George Floyd and the ongoing protests, Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

Despite the US being dubbed a "melting pot," disparities exist among different races in the US, Liu said, noting that since Trump took power, "white supremacy" has been more welcomed in the US.

Trump posted a controversial tweet on Friday, threatening to stop protesters in Minneapolis with military force after the city weathered arson and rioting in response to the police violence against the unarmed Floyd. 

Liu said that Trump targeted the protests but failed to speak out for justice against racism, which escalated public outrage, thus causing more widespread protests.

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