As I stated on March 30, the children are the real MVPs. It was the video captured by Darnella Frazier, a 17-year-old Black child, that exposed what happened to George Floyd last year. Children testified in court in order to hold Derek Chauvin accountable for his actions. Let’s never forget that. I’m grateful that their pain and time weren’t wasted.
That yesterday’s verdict is remarkable is evidence enough that there is much work to be done. And to be clear, what happened wasn’t justice; it was accountability. It was a step, a single step, up a steep staircase towards justice. We must never, ever, lose sight of the system that made the death of George Floyd and too many others commonplace throughout American history.
Is this a moment to celebrate? Maybe. But not because an individual may spend the rest of his life in prison; it’s because this moment has been a long time coming for people who have been routinely abused by an unjust system. Beyond the verdict, this moment must signal a renewed commitment to continue climbing the staircase towards justice.
Here’s the difference between accountability and justice: it’s not justice until systems are set up and consistently operate in ways that don’t place Black lives at risk of death and other harmful outcomes for simply existing. It’s not justice until policies consistently hold people accountable for their actions. It’s not justice if Derek Chauvin is afforded the privilege of White exceptionality—that he was a lone actor whose behavior doesn’t represent the larger unjust system. In the absence of significant systemic change, yesterday’s verdict is merely a slap on the wrist of the rotten tree that ultimately produces the bad apples that disregard Black lives.