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AMERICAN TRAUMA STORY: The Modern Day Public Lynching of George Floyd

Updated: Sep 20, 2023


Many in our community suffer from a cowardice toward white authority figures caused by centuries of trauma originally instilled through public lynchings and/or the humiliation of some of our biggest and strongest Black men (those who represented or symbolized the warrior class). Similarly, the casual killing of George Floyd (a 6 ft 4 in, muscular Black man) was a modern public lynching broadcastes over social and corporate media airwaves to trigger or instill fear in an entirely new generation of Black men, women and children. Though some will see these lynchings and rise up or rebel, the intent and overall impact of witnessing such violent acts is to realize outcomes that lynchings produced on the plantations during chattel slavery and the Jim Crow south - the social ordering, reordering, control and maintenance of the masses of Black people by a minority of individuals, those who call themselves "white". The growth, development and pervasiveness of this artificial social hierarchy has come to be known as the system of racism-white supremacy.

That being said, it is no wonder why for Black men, being tall increases threat stereotyping and police stops. According to NBC, police target Black men the taller they are. Of note, a 2018 study by Hester & Gray showed the taller the Black man is, the more likely he is to be targeted by police. At 5'4", police stopped 4.5 Black men for every white man; at 5'8", the number rose to 5.3 Black men for every white man; and at 6'4", it's 6.2 Black men for every white man. As I mentioned above, it is no coincidence that George Floyd, a Black man who was 6'4" was murdered in that manner many of us witnessed. He was targeted like many before him and like many after him will continue to be.

Research shows tall Black men face greater discrimination from police officers and elicit stronger judgments of threat. Some Black men train themselves to protect their safety by trying to make themselves seem less threatening through dressing in professional clothing, exaggerated smiling, standing hunched over, not wearing hoodies, do-rags or hats backward in public, and speaking with a higher pitch (nasal/squeaky) or soft toned voice. This is similar to self-imposed buck-breaking which leads to a proliferation of self-emasculated, self-effacing Black males.

In order to change the status quo, we must first change ourselves into ourselves. We must unlearn our oppressor's definitions and disconnect from Eurocentric imposed norms while reconnecting to Afrikan centered ones. Adopting Eastern or Asian philosophies won't be sufficient. Such an adoption only supplants white-supremacy with its close cousin, Asian-supremacy: the historical and modern colonization of African peoples by Arab, Chinese and Indian empires.

Changing ourselves into ourselves is the act of learning, loving and prioritizing ourselves instead of rejecting, denying, or devaluing ourselves. Denying ourselves (forgetting our first love) will always lead to a subservient role for Blacks in this global system of racial-supremacy. This race toward racial-supremacy has been taking place for more than 4 centuries before our hands and feet were unshackled, finally allowing us to run free (though we are only just beginning to truly walk). Denying and deprioritizing ourselves puts us even further behind. Embracing ourselves does not equate to replacing white-supremacy with Black or African supremacy (that would still be a Eurasia-centric world view). The Afrikan world view is not one of supremacy but one of Justice, Truth, and Liberation of Humanity - Afrikan centered people believe all people should be free and allowed freedom. Racism-supremacy is a rampant virus bent on dominating, controlling and ultimately destroying all life; natural systems on the planet earth and throughout the cosmos. Adopting an Afrikan worldview -- embracing ourselves and resisting oppression and confronting racism in all its forms -- is the only effective weapon against it.

By Dr. D.L. Hollar

PhD, Clinical Psychology Email:

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