Millions of people across the world were understandably elated by the news of Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the death of George Floyd. For almost a year, the world has been painfully anticipating the verdict, hoping for the justice that prevailed on April 20th when Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts:
- causing the death of a human being, without intent, while committing or attempting to commit an assault (second-degree murder);
- unintentionally causing a death by committing an act that is eminently dangerous to other persons while exhibiting a depraved mind, with reckless disregard for human life (third-degree murder);
- and creating an unreasonable risk, by consciously taking the chance of causing death or great bodily harm to someone else (manslaughter).
Following the guilty verdict, numerous friends of various ethnic backgrounds contacted me to express their satisfaction. Many people, particularly Black Americans like me, are emotionally and psychologically exhausted by the tragic, reoccurring shootings involving police officers and unarmed Black citizens.
Although I was somewhat confident that justice would be served in this case, I was still apprehensive when watching the verdict on live television. Once it had been delivered, I took the liberty of expressing my relief on various social media platforms, much like numerous celebrities; both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris publicly commented on the outcome. The verdict undoubtedly provided international relief.
While individuals on the liberal or progressive ideological spectrum were pleased with the verdict, those with right-wing political motivations were less so. Irascible gadfly Ben Shapiro, for example, and the perennially loose-lipped radio host, Tomi Lahren wasted no time in sharing their odious and reckless thoughts.
The right-wing blogosphere and social media platforms have been ruthless and relentless in their depiction of George Floyd, often referencing his personal missteps in their commentaries. They have not spared any racist stereotypes. That being said, no one in the media has been as menacing, reductive, arrogant, devious, sinister, and brash, as Tucker Carlson of FOX news. Carlson’s bombastic, flamethrower commentary has been deeply irresponsible. He recently remarked that the jurors in the Chauvin trial buckled under fear and thus voted the way they did.
As customary for many conservative right-wingers, Carlson enlisted the help of the shamefully opportunistic and racially derogative Candace Owens. All too happy to be a guest on his program, Owens, with a straight face, had the audacity to endorse Carlson’s ludicrous claim that many White people have been cowed into submission due to their fear of being called racist.
It appears that some people have no problem compromising their dignity for financial gain; willful ignorance has no shame. Both Carlson and Owens certainly have plenty of company.
Though justice did prevail in the case of George Floyd, the truth is that justice routinely evades Black and Latinx people. Had Darnella Frazier, a brave 17-year-old teenager, not filmed the brutal attack on George Floyd on that street corner in Minneapolis, May 25th, it is highly likely that another rouge police officer would have evaded the consequences of his actions. Her actions were justifiably saluted by many. In fact, according to the official statement released by the Minneapolis police department, Mr. Floyd was resisting arrest and died of asphyxiation: an epitome of police corruption. The intention was to scapegoat Mr. Floyd, a drug user with a criminal record, as the victim of his own personal demons.
The indisputable truth is that White supremacy is a pernicious entity, that is deeply etched into the fabric of our nation and influences law enforcement. There are many White people who would like to dismiss Derek Chauvin as “one bad apple” or an aberration. Reality demonstrates otherwise. Chauvin is not an anomaly; he represents a sizable number of officers who inappropriately interact with citizens of color, especially Black men. Though many White Americans maintain largely amiable relationships with law enforcement, these relationships are often acrimonious for people of color.
Many individuals with right-wing beliefs would rather take a “hear no evil, fear no evil, see no evil” attitude when it comes to the cancer of White supremacy. We cannot ignore the debilitating effects of this fatal disease, that has continually and disproportionately taken the lives of far too many Black people. Blaming Black people as the culprits of their own misbehavior is much easier than attempting to assuage any feelings of doubt or guilt among White conservatives, liberals, and progressives. It is a situation that must be fiercely combated.
Police have since killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, another Black Minnesota resident. His funeral was today, April 22, 2021. A video was also circulated showing the shooting of 13-year-old Latino resident Adam Toledo in Chicago; the footage proved that he had his hands in the air and was no threat to the police. The murder of Black Columbus, Ohio, resident, Makiyah Bryant, is another example of our nation’s pressing issue on racial discrimination within law enforcement.
George Floyd received well-deserved justice, but the larger question remains: How many other citizens of color, who have encountered similar situations, have been left without justice? We must remain vigilant. As the late self-described Black, lesbian, feminist warrior poet Audre Lorde stated, “the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.” Now that is speaking truth to power!
This post was originally published on The Polis on Medium.
EPISODE SUMMARY: Guilty on all three counts. But is it justice? POLITICO’s Brakkton Booker breaks down why activists say yesterday’s verdict is only the beginning. Plus, GOP senators float a $600-800 billion infrastructure counteroffer. And the U.S. considers more weapons shipments to Ukraine.
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