What George Floyd means to me


Katherine McKie

Senior Bidly Victor on the front steps of EHS

Note: This article contains language which may be discomforting or offensive to some people.

In 2020, the world had to wake up because of racism and police brutality happening right in front of our eyes. For months, stories about the death of George Floyd and how it happened were all over the news, on television and on social media. Some weeks, it felt like it was all people talked about. Even in our small community, some of us students decided to take part in the movement that followed, joining people from all over the world who decided to speak out against racist police violence. 

Everett High School has a pretty diverse student body, with around 81 percent students of color, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. At such a diverse school, I’ve rarely experienced overt racism, but even here, I’ve heard racist comments. I remember one time when a freshman called me a nigger after I bumped into his girl. That was the first and only time (so far) that someone of a different race called me a nigger. That upset me. Because of that one word, I felt thrown off track for the whole day.

That wasn’t the first time someone had called me that, though, and I questioned if I should have been mad about it. This was before George Floyd’s death and, back then, I was able to ignore it. I started trying to keep myself in place because I never wanted to be called that again by anyone. Still, after that incident, I began to re-evaluate my view on racism in this community. I didn’t know then that the whole country would soon have to confront ongoing racism.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died as a victim of police brutality. At first, it was hard for me to believe that something like this could happen in today’s world. I remember a friend told me that he died and showed me the released footage of his death, and that’s all it took to destroy my view of the world and how I fit into it as a black person. That night, I sat in my room and watched more videos of police brutality and I cried. I became very concerned about my future. I wondered if something like that would happen to me when I became an adult. Will my kids experience something like that someday? Where would I go if I moved out of state? Where would I feel safe?

When I heard that some of my friends and classmates were planning a silent protest for the Black Lives Matter, I wanted to go. My mother was very strict, though, and was worried about the pandemic and scared that something would happen to me if went. I still watched the protests on YouTube, Instagram, or wherever I could, so that I could feel like I was there. 

Learning online this school year was hard, but part of me was happy we didn’t have to go back to school because I think there would have been too much pressure on black students and staff members. Our school already has a diverse student body, but it is still struggling to diversify its staff, who are over 85 percent white, according to DESE data. I want to see more diversity in the staff of our school in the future so that we as students can feel better represented. This would be one simple step in the right direction in the fight against racism. I am hopeful that when minority groups are better represented, we will become a stronger community where we all feel safe and valued equally.