On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a Black man, father, son, brother, and friend, was murdered by someone whose job it is to protect us: a police officer, who in broad daylight and the presence of many others calling for him to stop, knelt on Floyd’s neck until he breathed his last breath.
And we witnessed this almost in real time. The entire world saw it. We knew this was not an outlier event. It was not a rare exception in our society, but another in a long string of violent acts against our own people—a shameful, entrenched, recurring racism that leads to violence and police brutality disproportionately directed towards the Black community. This community has endured this injustice for too long. Far too long.
In the months since Floyd’s death, many of us around the world have stood up in a renewed, heightened protest against hundreds of years of systemic racism—demanding justice and real change. Yet, despite the worldwide focus and all the video evidence and witnesses of Floyd’s murder, history taught us we could not be confident in a conviction or justice.
Yesterday, the police officer was found guilty on all three counts against him, including murder.
With this verdict, we exhale and find some relief, some peace in knowing the right thing happened. With this verdict, we also remember Emmett Till. Rodney King. Sandra Bland. Daunte Wright and thousands of others who have endured, suffered, and were victims of injustices and violence like this. Far too many.
And for this reason, this verdict also adds fuel to our commitment to getting real justice and lasting change. We feel new energy and optimism that racism will truly be a thing that we can shed forever. Because no one is born a racist. We learn to become one.
I also hope this is a sign of hope for the Black community, that the U.S. understands the burden you carry, often silently and without hope for justice.
We know today’s victory has power and meaning for all people who face discrimination, prejudice, and hate. To quote Chris Stewart, one of the Floyd family’s attorneys, “The whole world should not have to rally to get justice for one man. But that’s what happened. This wasn’t a city case. This wasn’t one family’s case. This was the entire world’s case. And justice finally came... But it shouldn’t be this hard... And that’s the change we all want.”
So, for all who are discriminated against and for us all, I recommit to being the change I want to see, speaking up when I could be silent, and taking action. Although today is only one step, we see that our protests, demands, and actions matter.
Silence and inaction make you an accomplice. Don’t be one.
Rest in power, George Floyd.