Last night, when Derek Chauvin was led into a Minneapolis courtroom to learn the outcome of his trial, we collectively held our breath.
And when the verdict was read, we exhaled. Because when a White ex-police officer is held accountable for the murder of a Black man, we must breathe.
We must breathe because relief can be fleeting when so much work still lies ahead.
We must breathe because accountability is not the same thing as justice.
We must breathe because healing does not come easy. It takes effort. It takes persistence. It takes time. And it will take all of us.
Derek Chauvin’s conviction is not the end; it is a sign of a new beginning. And to move forward, we first must acknowledge that racism and racial injustice is structural and embedded in well-established policies and practices that take place every single day, everywhere. Then we must work together to dig out the roots of prejudice and inequity and create systems changes that are inclusive and equitable.
Most importantly, we must listen to and learn from the voices of those who have been impacted by racism and injustice and lift up anyone among us – family and friends, coworkers and neighbors – who face these ugly truths in their daily lives. And we must walk alongside and actively support those who fight so passionately against them.
George Floyd was more than one Black man killed by one White police officer on a street in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His death – and the many other Black and Brown lives that have been lost before and since – is emblematic of the larger issue that in this country, one’s humanity is still secondary to the color of their skin. No one conviction in a court of law will change that. It is a fight we can only win if we work, if we persist and if we breathe – TOGETHER.