For a couple of years now, I have wanted to write an op-ed but was afraid it wouldn’t be good enough. There’s something about articulating your thoughts in writing for all to read, that intrigues me. I guess that’s why I started a blog lol But this very expression leaves the writer vulnerable and open to critique. And maybe that, paired with my fear of rejection, has caused me to shy away from this dream of writing an op-ed. So I will take a baby step and write what is in my heart and in my mind, right here.
May 25, 2020. On this day, a video was posted on Facebook and showed George Floyd dying at the hands of police officers. The very people that took an oath to “protect and serve” were not protecting and serving George Floyd. Let me be clear, this post is not about calling for the police to be de-funded or projecting the actions of a few onto the many moral police officers. This post is about sharing the emotional rollercoaster that I have experienced over the past year, and explain how consequential the decision of the jury will be for the Black community.
When I first learned about George Floyd’s death last year, I was highly upset, as were many people. I had never seen so many protests take place around the county for the same cause. I was excited that people from all walks of life, were exercising their rights to peacefully protest the unnecessary death of George Floyd. And I was equally frustrated that I couldn’t be out there with them, as the effects of the coronavirus were still very new to the public. But as I began to hear more about the situation from news outlets, my mind began to reel through more negative emotions. I didn’t feel safe as a Black woman in America. I didn’t trust the police. I no longer had a desire to marry a Black man and have a Black son, only to see them die at the hands of the police. I wanted Black people to “go back to Africa” as Marcus Garvey suggested in the early 1900s. I wanted America to be territorially divided so that Black people can live without fear of dying before their time. And we would take all of our inventions, foods, culture, music, etc. with us if we as a people couldn’t be respected. But in the end, I knew that positive change would not be made with these mindsets and fears.
Thus, for the past 3+ weeks, I watched almost every day of the trial. There were some days when I had to commute to work and missed testimony. There were also days when I had to take an emotional break from the evidence and heaviness of it all. Before closing arguments on Monday, I had so much anxiety. I literally was dissecting the prosecution’s case and the defense’s arguments on Sunday morning, while eating a bowl of cereal. I was up at night thinking if there was anything else that the prosecution could have provided to the jury. In the end, however, I believe the prosecution team did a phenomenal job presenting the facts and hiring top experts in the field to testify.
You might be reading this post and asking yourself how it fits in with the title. I’ll tell you what every Black person in America already knows. If Derek Chauvin is found not guilty for all or most of the charges (second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter), then some police officers and others could feel emboldened to commit similar actions without fear of consequence. According to the Deterrence Theory, people will deter from an action if there is celerity, severity, and certainty of punishment. The decision that the jury makes in this trial will either maintain the current debilitating status quo or pivot us in a new direction, a direction where no one is above the law.
My prayer is that Derek Chauvin is held accountable for his actions (and inaction) on May 25, 2020, towards George Floyd. My prayer is that others will be held accountable for their actions. My prayer is that we can live by the creed stated in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”Thomas Jefferson – Declaration of Independence
Justice has been blind, but it’s time for her to open her eyes and see the destruction/pain/loss/anger/division it has produced in our country. This may be one of the most consequential decisions that I will experience in life, and I pray the jurors make the right decision. And even if I don’t get to witness it in my lifetime, I will continue to advocate for Black and Brown youth to experience the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.