I wrote this while waiting for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
I sat at my desk today (April 20th, 2021), finishing off some work. Yet, I wasn’t really concentrating because I’d just seen the news that the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial was about to come down.
Like many Black people, what put a knot in my stomach was that even with video evidence of the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that robbed George Floyd of life, there was no guarantee of a guilty verdict. From the outside the facts seem incontrovertible, but knowing the way that white supremacy operates, nobody could be sure of how it would turn out.
I don’t live in the US, as you know, but the verdict makes a difference to me.
Because I, too, am Black and the multi-generational trauma that dates back to the trafficking, enslavement and killing of my ancestors affects me, too.
Because I have family and friends in the US trying to exist while Black and stay alive.
Because it tells me whether there is any hope that Black people will ever get true justice in that country.
That’s not a given. Counting all the way back to Emmett Till, hundreds of Black people have lost their lives for the crime of not being white and for being perceived to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Though shouldn’t every place be our place in countries we helped to build?)
In the almost a year since George Floyd lost his life, there have been several more, including at least three in the past week (we don’t hear about them all, I’m pretty sure). The playbook was in full evidence in all the cases, video evidence notwithstanding, and so it’s a reminder that to many no single Black life is as sacred as all white lives. There should be no doubt that Black lives matter, but there always is.
And so we wait. We wait to see if justice will be done, though as someone pointed out, George Floyd is still dead, as are all the others murdered by the US police. Many police officers kill Black people and then return to work without censure after a suitable time out of the public gaze. I hope that doesn’t happen this time.
A guilty verdict would send a signal that at least in one case, a police officer did not get away with killing an unarmed Black man. It wouldn’t make up for the many other Black people who didn’t get justice, but it would be a start.
What follows is my reaction to the actual verdict.
When the news broke, my reaction was “Oh, thank, God!”. The jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts. I exhaled a little, bcause it wasn’t certain. Of course, we still have to hear the sentence, but this is a start. What thoughts went through your mind as you waited for the verdict? How are you feeling now?
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.