George Clooney calls anti-black racism 'America’s greatest pandemic in powerful essay

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
A demonstrator walks with a sign during a protest on Monday in Anaheim, Calif., over the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis. (Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

George Clooney has written an essay about the death of George Floyd, calling anti-black racism “America’s greatest pandemic” and urging people to vote for change.

In the Daily Beast piece, the actor and activist wrote, “There is little doubt that George Floyd was murdered,” while in police custody in Minneapolis last week. “We watched as he took his last breath at the hands of four police officers.”

Of the subsequent protests across the country, some of which have turned violent, he wrote, “Now we see another defiant reaction to the systemic cruel treatment of a portion of our citizens like we saw in 1968, 1992, and 2014. We don’t know when these protests will subside. We hope and pray that no one else will be killed. But we also know that very little will change.”

George Clooney takes part in a press conference in London to present a report on atrocities in South Sudan on September 19, 2019. (Photo: Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Clooney said that “the anger and the frustration we see playing out once again in our streets” serves as a reminder of “how little we’ve grown as a country from our original sin of slavery. The fact that we aren’t actually buying and selling other human beings anymore is not a badge of honor.”

He called for “systemic change in our law enforcement and in our criminal justice system,” pointing out the racial disparity. And said the country needs “policymakers and politicians that reflect basic fairness to all of their citizens equally. Not leaders that stoke hatred and violence as if the idea of shooting looters could ever be anything less than a racial dog whistle,” a dig at President Trump and his “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” tweet.

Clooney added that Bull Connor, an Alabama politician with close ties to the KKK, who opposed the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960 “was more subtle.”

Clooney went on to call anti-black racism in America “our pandemic. It infects all of us, and in 400 years we’ve yet to find a vaccine. It seems we’ve stopped even looking for one and we just try to treat the wound on an individual basis. And we sure haven’t done a very good job of that.”

He ended by saying that as we wonder “what it’s going to take to fix these seemingly insurmountable problems, just remember we created these issues so we can fix them.” And the only way to really “bring lasting change” is to “vote.”

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