House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic members of Congress adorned themselves in Kente cloth and took a knee during a moment of silence for George Floyd. Although the gesture was meant to inspire solidarity, the Democrats have drawn criticism from followers of the event on social media.
According to CNN, more than 20 politicians joined Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a ceremony to honor Floyd and other Black people killed due to police brutality at the Capitol's Emancipation Hall Monday. Pelosi gave an address and said the names of several young people murdered by police, like Tamir Rice, Philando Castile and Michael Brown, before taking a “kneel of silence” for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Shortly after the tribute, many people on social media began criticizing it for being a performative PR stunt.
If Nancy Pelosi and her cohorts took a knee for every black life lost due to their failed Democrat leadership…
They would be on their knees forever. pic.twitter.com/LUm1a6QAtI
— Damani Felder (@TheDamaniFelder) June 9, 2020
Power and Empire screenwriter Eric Haywood wondered why the group of politicians didn’t just stick to their field of influence.
"What if they, like, just passed some laws instead of dressing up like a Wakandan chess set?"
What if they, like, just passed some laws instead of dressing up like a Wakandan chess set? pic.twitter.com/F3d2YDjNRW
— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) June 8, 2020
Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), announced at a press conference new legislation against police brutality and said that the white Democrats present at the tribute were wearing the cloths in an act of solidarity and to show respect to African heritage.
"The significance of the Kente cloth is our African heritage," she said. "And for those of you without that heritage, we're acting in solidarity. That is the significance of the Kente cloth — our origins and respecting our pasts."
Civil rights activist April Reign, who created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, tweeted that people should focus on the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 that was introduced on Monday instead of the tribute.
"Not a huge fan of the Kente cloth, but it was a show of solidarity from more seasoned folks, so I get it. I just hope we don't miss what happened after the performative part, which is that legislation is being introduced. Keep this same energy for the Rand Pauls who will vote No," she wrote.
Not a huge fan of the Kente cloth, but it was a show of solidarity from more seasoned folks, so I get it. I just hope we don't miss what happened after the performative part, which is that legislation is being introduced. Keep this same energy for the Rand Pauls who will vote No.
— April (@ReignOfApril) June 8, 2020
As Reign mentioned, a bill from Democratic congressional leaders was introduced on Monday. NBC News reports The Justice in Policing Act proposes a federal ban on chokeholds, like those used to kill Floyd and Eric Garner, and calls for the formation of a National Police Misconduct Registry.