I was at school yesterday, gearing up for my fifth graders who are set to come back for in-person learning next week. Then, around 4 p.m., several colleagues alerted me to the verdict being announced at 4:30 p.m.
I cannot explain it, but I had an immediate pit in my stomach. I was filled with emotions and “what if” scenarios in my head. Main question: How am I going to talk to my students about this if it’s not the verdict most people want to see?
I was playing out the trial over and over — it was a relatively quick deliberation, the prosecution witnesses made a strong case as to why what Derek Chauvin did was out of line, the president of the United States called George Floyd’s family and said “the evidence was overwhelming.”
So he has to be found guilty right?
But, there was a huge part of me that did not feel confident in our system and I was mentally preparing for the worst. As I saw my friends’ social media posts leading up to the verdict, I saw similar feelings of angst, especially from other BIPOC.
My family and I were listening for the verdict on the radio as we drove home. The news said, the verdict will come out momentarily — nothing! — the pit in my stomach seemed to be growing.
Then, it was time. My husband was driving, I grabbed his hand and clenched it tightly as the verdict was read. Guilty on all counts! Others on the highway were honking. Our 4-year-old in the back seat was not completely grasping why mom and dad were embracing each other.
At that moment, I felt hope. However, I did not see yesterday’s verdict as justice, but rather accountability and I was not alone in that sentiment.
Post the verdict, the Floyd family attorney, Benjamin Crump, addressed a crowd from the location where George Floyd was killed and said, “Let’s take a breath to heal our country.” He also encouraged Americans to remember the other victims of police brutality.
The oppressive systems still exist, we have a lot of dismantling to do and the fight for equity continues. Chauvin, a person who had the job of protecting the public, killed a Black man. He was held accountable yesterday for his actions.
It was Darnella Frazier’s video which enabled many in this country to see what BIPOC have seen for generations. Darnella was 17 at the time she captured the video that contained evidence of murder. If it were not for Darnella’s video, I am not sure if there would have even been a trial.
Fellow educators and parents — Darnella was a young person who used her voice. We need to continue to empower our students and children to use their voice and hold decision makers accountable. We as the adults need to do better and make this world better for them.
Here are some resources to create safe spaces of dialogue and empowerment for our young people:
- Uplift Philly
- Understanding Child Trauma
- Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event
- Helping Youth After Community Trauma
- How Educators can Respond to a Nationwide Uprising (a resource document created by one of my go-to Philadelphia organizations, Racial Justice Organizing Committee)
- Curriculum Resources on Bias, Race and Injustice
- Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice (a publication by one of my go-to resources, Learning for Justice)
- Resources for Talking about Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids
- Expert Guidance on Preparing Kids for Police Interactions
- Philly Hub for Liberatory Academics
- Thinking about Social Justice through Crafts and Conversation
- Colorful Pages
- Code Switch
- Anti-Racist Graphic Novel Reading List