America finds itself in a state of well-earned unrest tonight, as people outraged by the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd—which occurred on May 25, 2020, roughly 8 minutes and 45 seconds after police officer Derek Chauvin began kneeling on his neck—continued streaming onto the pandemic-shuttered streets of a number of cities, leading to sometimes-violent clashes with police, and much hand-wringing amongst the “Won’t people think of the Target stores!” set. And if you need a quick, go-to reference for how far America’s citizens have been pushed, not just by the never-not-present reality of police brutality against Black Americans, but also by all the people more concerned by property destruction than the death of a man in police custody, well, how about this: Not even LeVar Burton, notoriously nice human being, is fucking around with this shit anymore.
There’s a danger, when talking about someone who’s devoted as much of his life to children’s education and entertainment as Burton has, to engage in a bit of infantilization when describing his acts of kindness. But the Roots and Star Trek actor really does seem to be a very nice person, devoting most of his time lately to raising money for COVID-19 relief, interacting with fans he’s helped teach to love reading (whether through Reading Rainbow or his LeVar Burton Reads podcast), and just generally trying to be a conscientious, helpful person. But even conscientious, helpful people have limits. Burton—who tweeted earlier tonight about his disgust and anger at the double-standards Black Americans are held to when police cruelty inevitably begets public protest—has apparently reached his.
And while the above statements are just a handful of tweets in a sea of internet and real-life turmoil, there’s something that just feels significant about seeing a man who’s devoted so much of his life to acts of gentleness hit the point at which he can no longer stomach America’s collective horseshit. It’s like seeing your coolest teacher get pushed past his limits, reminding you he’s still a human being who’s as outraged by all this trauma as the rest of us.
So please, don’t fuck with LeVar Burton today. Maybe listen to him, instead—whether on his social media, or his podcast, or in the above interview he just gave to The Stoop. He’s rarely steered you wrong before.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.