In Houston, Where George Floyd Will Be Buried, White Men & Women Ask for Forgiveness for Years of Racism

Social Commentary

In Houston, Where George Floyd Will Be Buried, White Men & Women Ask for Forgiveness for Years of Racism

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The protests against the killing of George Floyd currently engulfing the US are accompanied by horrific imagery on social media – police using brutal force against protesters, looters and rioters causing wanton property damage, and toxic insults being hurled with abandon. Against this backdrop, one video from Houston, Texas, stands out because instead of violence or hate, it showcases solidarity and understanding.

The video is of a “prayertest” in Houston, where parishioners of a local church gathered to join hands and pray for an end to the troubling events across the country. Houston was the hometown of George Floyd, who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis and whose death was the spark that led to the nationwide protests and rioting.

The gathering was held in Houston’s 3rd Ward Cuney Homes, where Floyd grew up, giving it an added significance. At one point during the “prayertest”, the white attendees stood opposite their black counterparts, and kneeled down to ask forgiveness for “years and years of racism” from their brothers and sisters in the parish.

The visuals are powerful, pointing the way to a more just future where stereotyping is replaced by compassion. The video quickly went viral, drawing praise from across the world for how it showcased the better side of humanity.

This did not mean that there were no cynics and doubters, however. Some saw the gesture at the “prayertest” as pandering, and called it cringe-worthy for the way it depicted white people asking for forgiveness for the crimes of their ancestors.

However, those that chose to call out the video for perpetuating inequality clearly did not have all the information, as shortly after the white parishioners took a knee, the black parishioners joined them, going down on their knees as well and participating in a joint prayer.

Though it’s undeniable that the US has a problem with systemic racism, incidents like these light the way to a better, more just future.