Yesterday was a momentous day for Civil Rights, when ex-policeman Derek Chauvin, who was filmed on video murdering George Floyd, was found guilty of all three charges of murder and manslaughter- and a policeman was finally held accountable for an egregious abuse of power that stole a life unjustly. This verdict cannot give the Floyd family their beloved back. And this is only one case where accountability has been carried out- only because of the staggering amount of evidence. Most are not so lucky. Many will still walk free. Many more will still die. It is too soon to get too hopeful, but we can- for one day- breathe the breath George Floyd had robbed from him as he cried “I can’t breathe.”
Make no mistake about it; this is only the first step of a marathon, a drop of justice in an ocean of injustice. But it is a drop, and drops can create ripples, and ripples can create waves, and waves can create a sea of change.
Every single one of us needs to care about this. No excuses. I know we get caught up in our own dramas and traumas. We get distracted and self-absorbed and convince ourselves we’ll care later. We get defensive and fragile and say “All lives matter.” We make things worse with our micro-aggressions and ignorance.
But that’s not good enough. Our Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) brothers and sisters are getting slaughtered nearly daily and this must stop. We must become stronger and more proactive as allies in a Civil Rights struggle that will not end until all men and women of all races, gender identities, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses are treated as equals.
Let’s not make this another “But what about [insert your cause du jour]?”
I know people say, “What about the cops? They risk so much and there are two sides to everything.” Yes. And I recommend reading Black trauma therapist Resmaa Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands to get better insight and more compassion into how police violence against BIPOC harms us all and is a trauma response for us all.
Still, this is the moment for Black lives to matter. Let’s just sit with this verdict and feel it.
My biracial sister says she can’t find her words or celebrate this “win.” It’s hard to consider any innocent man’s murder a win- in any way. There were no great dance parties on the streets in Minneapolis. I’m told there were tears, relief, silence, reverence. The Floyd family can finally grieve, knowing at the very least that George’s murderer will at the very least be held accountable for an unconscionable act of violence.
Let us join in that moment of silence, reverence, grief, and shared resilience as we do what we must to make this not a drop in the ocean, but a river of momentum that will lead to a sea of change.
Black lives matter. We all have to care that they matter – and do something about this travesty.
But for today- let us stop defending any unjust behavior- and just sit with our tears and our grief over how many BIPOC have lost their lives for centuries because of white supremacy. Our activism to reverse these horrors is spiritual work, yet we need to do more than pray. We need to vote, to act, to protest peacefully, to make our voices heard, to make sacrifices if needed, until the visions of the Civil Rights activists who have been marching since the Civil War finally see that “I have a dream” has become a reality.
God help us, but let us not just leave this to God. We need to help each other. All of us. Nobody left behind.
Oh please, for the sake of love, justice, equality, safety, fairness, and kindnesses long overdue, may it be so.