Maybe now we’ll start believing?
Maybe, now that George Floyd’s killer has been convicted of murder, Black people will finally relax and open up and start to trust that the system works for them?
There’s a lot of water under that bridge and sometimes some of our ancestors are floating in it, reminders that there’s a long way to go for America to atone for its history of racism.
But Black people can and should acknowledge progress, even as we demand more of a nation our ancestors built while being denied the legal means to amass education and wealth or the privilege of passing either down to subsequent generations.
Remember that protest chant
Years ago, the protest chant was “no justice, no peace; prosecute the police.”
That’s what’s happening now.
Former officer Derek Chauvin was charged and convicted in Floyd’s death. A short drive away another white, former officer, Kim Potter, has been charged in the death of Daunte Wright after she shot him with a gun instead of shocking him with a Taser.
Corporations have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in support for minority job development and civic engagement programs.
And we’re seeing employers create diversity training initiatives that should pay dividends in future hiring cycles.
Maybe the more we know justice the more we can know peace?
This isn’t a call for complacence on the part of social reformers who believe the color of a person’s skin shouldn’t determine so much of the trajectory of their lives and interactions with law enforcement.
There is still plenty of work to be done to reform a system that goes after poor people for petty crime but is ill-equipped to fight cybercrime or business fraud.
We still need police reform
There also are massive overhauls required in modern policing. Minor accusations shouldn’t be eligible for a 911 emergency response OR for an arrest. Officers should just find the accused, write a ticket or a summons and let it go from there.
Officers need help in dealing with mental health crises.
And the job needs to be made more attractive to career seekers. Police say they aren’t seeing enough high-quality candidates come through training.
Still, this is all about life and death.
Too often when police interact with Black people the conflicts escalate to deadly levels. Too often there are scores of abuses that go unseen in departments across the nation.
So this conviction was important, and it represents progress.
But it’s time for the fight to reach new fronts (like student-debt forgiveness and corporate hiring practices) to sustain that progress.
Maybe after a few more cases such as this end with justice.
And maybe after there are fewer and fewer cases such as this.
Maybe then Black people will start to relax and believe that the systems can work for them?
There’s a lot of water under that bridge.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Derek Chauvin is guilty. Will Black people now trust the system?