“It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’,” Mr Obama wrote.
The former president cites examples of incidents when people have been treated differently because of their race — “dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park”.
He continues: “This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal’. If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”
My statement on the death of George Floyd: pic.twitter.com/Hg1k9JHT6R— Barack Obama (@BarackObama)May 29, 2020
In the statement Mr Obama shares parts of the conversations he has had with friends in the days since footage emerged of Mr Floyd dying face down in the street under the knee of a police officer.
A middle-aged African American businessman told the former president how the incident hurt him and how he cried and broke down when he saw the video.
“The ‘knee on the neck’ is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help. People don’t care. Truly tragic,” the man wrote.
Another of Mr Obama’s friends used 12-year-old Keedron Bryant’s powerful performance of a song to express the frustrations he was feeling.
The gospel singer, who competed on NBC’s talent competition Little Big Shots, posted a video of himself singing a song with the refrain “I just want to live”.
The former president says that it falls to officials in Minnesota to ensure the circumstances surrounding Mr Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is done.
He concludes his statement by saying: ”But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”