Great good can sometimes come out of the worst tragedies. We can't bring George Floyd back. We can't undo what killed Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. But we can make sure they didn't die in vain.
We can make sure whatever killed them doesn't kill again. Because what killed Floyd, Taylor, Arbery, and what continues to threaten millions of African Americans is not the single act of an angry cop. It's racism.
The good that is coming from the death of George Floyd is seeing Americans of all cultures, classes and races unite around the simple ideal that all men indeed are created equal. Americans who may have once denied racism exists, ignored it when they saw it, or even contributed to it in their own little ways, even these Americans are now sick of living with the burden of prejudice and hate.
The death of George Floyd just may be doing what we thought impossible, bridging the partisan and cultural divides and uniting us as one nation, bound together by the highest ideals of mutual respect, simple courtesy and commitment to honoring the basic human dignity of all people.
We have seen signs of this coming together this week in the goodbye tributes to Republican Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, with Democrats and Republican lauding his years of service to our commonwealth. It came only a few days after he called for a special session of the legislature to respond to protests against racism and demands for police reform.
We have seen it with t he NFL apologizing for not being more receptive to the peaceful protest that the simple taking of a knee represented.
And we have seen it with NASCAR boldly declaring it would no longer brandish the Confederate flag, a painful symbol of racism and oppression for many African Americans.
Former Lt. Gov. Mark Singel, himself a committed Democrat, says Republicans and Democrat now are working together in the Pennsylvania legislature to craft legislation on police reform. And he acknowledges with Charlie Gerow, a staunch Republican, that Democrats need to get on board with the criminal justice reform conservatives are actually leading – reform that will most directly benefit black and brown communities.
Most of all, we are seeing new signs of unity in the beautiful, masked faces of all hues taking to the streets to wave banners, hoist signs and shout, "Black Lives Matter." Young people are leading the way and have the most energy and stamina, but older folks are out there, too.
Some marched in Washington in 1963. Some marched in Selma in 1965. And some even marched with the million men in 1995 who tried to tell us of the profound suffering of African American men in our society.
These marches told us black lives need to matter. They chipped away at the laws and policies that kept African Americans mired in poverty, denied affordable healthcare and quality education, redlined, lynched, and the targets of police who knew their brutality would be protected by bosses who looked just like them.
But not anymore. Or at least that is the hope. And that is the great good that could emerge amid the tragedy of the death of George Floyd.
Originally published by the Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.