DEREK CHAUVIN TRIAL STATEMENT
by Jennifer Jones, Development and Administrative Director, Title Track
Published on April 15, 2021
In late May 2020, I decided that for my own mental/emotional health, I was going to stay away from Facebook. I was tired. I am tired. I was/am so tired of seeing my feed fill up with so many people sharing graphic footage of a man being murdered by a law enforcement officer; a person who was supposed to serve and protect. The murder of George Floyd was everywhere and seemingly embedded into everything I encountered. While I avoided social media, I failed to completely bypass the event: televisions, conversations at my office, and some friends randomly reaching out asking how they could pray for me and what they could do. The whole WORLD began to hum with news of this man’s murder, his death. It went from another police brutality event that my community mourns, to a movement that took over the entire world. While I felt that concern, compassion, and seemingly love from my friends who genuinely wanted to communicate and touch base with me, some of these friends had become acquaintances. I had not heard from them in years, some even a decade – I was surprised they still had my phone number. Why now? This tragedy, a black man’s death at the hands of a person in power, was nothing new to our world; it has most certainly been happening for centuries. Then Maya Angelou’s words came streaming into my mind: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Perhaps more people in my life (lives) were starting to realize this terrible reality that my people encounter every day? I cannot truly say.
Processing the Derek Chauvin Trial that started on March 29 that continues into April 2021: I have to admit that I am re-traumatizing myself remembering the earlier part of the pandemic and then George Floyd, which activated people to protests and some to soul-searching…along with others that just wanted everything back to whatever normal was for them. It was a long Summer where I was just waiting for another tragic news cycle; another story of a protest that led to violence; another death – I never had to wait too long for that in 2020.
I cannot immerse myself into following Chauvin’s trial. I listen to my father in the living room as he takes it all in. I watched my father as he watched the testimony of Charles McMillan; a tearful testimony that my father endured also in tears. I read the posts of friends following the trial voicing their opinions, and listen to the sound bytes of those that have taken the stand; the bystanders that blame themselves, full of sadness and shame, for what transpired that day.
I do not fear what the verdict will be. I only fear that we will not learn. That we will just keep sending condolence posts, graphics, texts, emails, and letters to friends of color. That we will keep seeing the headers of corporate websites change to the statement of the moment, but without a realization that they’re not helping us change. Performative allyship: you’re just so damn toxic. Checking off boxes, whose? Appeasing….whom? I don’t want your show. I want for us to understand that like most things we desire in this world, it will take work to make things change. It will take continuous, dedicated, and sometimes difficult work. Work that has to happen every day, and we need accountability partners in order to stay consistent in our changing. That’s all, just keep a covenant every day; that you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind into someone that will not injure, but one that is always learning and always loving.