George Clooney says racism is a ''pandemic''.

The 59-year-old actor has spoken out in an essay addressing the recent death of Minneapolis native George Floyd, who died after a police officer - who has since been sacked from the force, and has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter - knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Following Floyd's death, protests have been taking place across America, and Clooney praised people's ''defiant reaction'' to the ''systemic cruel treatment'' of black people.

He wrote in his essay for The Daily Beast: ''How many times have we seen people of colour killed by police? Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald. There is little doubt that George Floyd was murdered. We watched as he took his last breath at the hands of four police officers. Now we see another defiant reaction to the systemic cruel treatment of a portion of our citizens like we saw in 1968, 1992, and 2014.

''We don't know when these protests will subside. We hope and pray that no one else will be killed. But we also know that very little will change.''

The 'Money Monster' star called for fundamental change to bring an end to racial prejudice, and likened the issue to the current coronavirus pandemic.

He added: ''The anger and the frustration we see playing out once again in our streets is just a reminder of how little we've grown as a country from our original sin of slavery. The fact that we aren't actually buying and selling other human beings anymore is not a badge of honour. We need systemic change in our law enforcement and in our criminal justice system. ... This is our pandemic. It infects all of us, and in 400 years we've yet to find a vaccine.''

Clooney also hit out at controversial US president Donald Trump, and urged people in America to vote in the upcoming election to elect someone who ''reflects basic fairness to all of their citizens equally''.

He wrote: ''We need policymakers and politicians that reflect basic fairness to all of their citizens equally. Not leaders that stoke hatred and violence as if the idea of shooting looters could ever be anything less than a racial dog whistle.

''So this week, as we're wondering what it's going to take to fix these seemingly insurmountable problems, just remember we created these issues so we can fix them. And there is only one way in this country to bring lasting change: Vote.''