This essay is part of a Youth Voice series on the one-year mark of the police killing of George Floyd. An introduction to this series can be viewed here.
I get entangled in my thoughts when I think of justice, and what society at large sees as justice. George Floyd is gone and is never coming back. He should be alive with a pulsing heartbeat and be able to experience all of life’s joys, confusion, pain, bliss, heartache and moments. Yet he is buried at a cemetery. That is a tragedy, not justice.
Sure, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all accounts of murder, as he should be, and will spend some time in jail. But justice was neither sought nor served. Justice is George Floyd navigating a world that was seemingly designed to see his downfall. Undoubtedly, one cannot deny the harsh consequences of systemic racism that has tinged the Black experience in America. Similarly, one can neither deny nor empathize with the unyielding pain that George Floyd’s family, his loved ones and Black people as a collective feel to witness the slaying of another Black body at the hands of the police.
Justice for George Floyd will never be achieved; he is gone.
Justice is Black people living in all of their glory, not being murdered for the radiant melanin that drips from our skin. But here in Amerikkka, police have free reign to murder, to harass all because they “feared” for their life. How I wish Black people fearing for our lives could stop the malicious behavior of agents of the state. I hope one day Black lives can truly matter, but this cannot be true in a country where we are being executed. The two cannot co-exist. Abolish the police, because no one should have a license to kill.
In George Floyd’s case, accountability was sought after. However, I fear it is not because we are turning over a new leaf and the judicial system will work to hold all people accountable before the law. Rather, I am convinced that Chauvin was used as a sacrificial lamb, in an attempt to silence our protest, cries, rightful anger and distrust in the system. I see through the attempt to have things return back to normal, but I wholeheartedly feel accountability is not sufficient when police officers are still employed. Verdicts are not enough.
Why? Because less than a couple hours after Derek Chauvin was charged, Ma’Khia Bryant was slaughtered by a police officer. The Black community couldn’t even take in the moment of hopeful changes because we were brutally reminded that after one verdict has happened, we will have to wait for another one. Will accountability be achieved for Ma’Khia Bryant? Will Black women be given the respect, due diligence and protection they are owed?
I guess we will need to wait nearly a year to see what happens, similar to the 11 months we waited anxiously to see if George Floyd’s murderer would be held accountable. Once again, a system that was sworn to protect Ma’Khia Bryant failed her. The child welfare system, the judicial system and the police once again killed. I am livid, yet not surprised. I am heartbroken, yet I’m all cried out. My tears are opaque because the fears I have inside can never translate to a system that was never intended to serve me, but instead hurt me, we, us.
There can be no justice when death is before us. Accountability at most. But even so, accountability is not enough, reform is not enough. The only choice we have is to aggressively abolish a system that kills us. Lip service serves no purpose.
We need public safety policies designed for Black people to truly protect us. We need community-oriented services designed for us. If not, hashtags will continue to be the only place where solstice is found. We have to value us while we are around and not 6 feet underground.
Hashtag hashtag hashtag — enough of us are already dead. What will it take for systems, institutions and people to value Black bodies while we are here instead of using our pain as trauma porn to be the face of a movement, when our body has no more movement? RIP.