With news today that a Minnesota jury has convicted Derek Chauvin of all three charges against him in the murder of George Floyd, many of us let ourselves – just for a moment – draw in a short breath, while remembering the breath that Mr. Floyd was so cruelly denied last May. Especially those of us who are Black or brown, whose communities have suffered most deeply from racist policing practices – we inhaled the shortest of breaths and imagined that in a distant future we might feel seen and respected in our interactions with police.
But as a Black mother with a Black son in his early twenties, I am keenly aware that that vision is still miles away. And there is only bittersweet happiness in these verdicts, because Mr. Floyd’s family and friends will never recover from their personal loss, and the people who saw him die are haunted. Yet the decisions today help fuel my persistent hope that this country will finally and carefully examine and reform law enforcement. Indeed, today has been an important step toward much needed accountability in this country.
Since George Floyd’s murder, more than 30 states have passed new police oversight and reform laws. And yet, the killing of innocent Black and brown boys and men by police officers continues. Just last week, 10 miles down the street from where Chauvin’s trial took place, Daunte Wright – a 20-year-old Black man – lost his life at the hands of another police officer. There is so much more work to do – and we heard that refrain today from community leaders and social justice activists all over the country, from the White House to Minnesota to colleagues in the Bay Area.
Together, we must continue to push to reform policing and reimagine the very definition of “public safety.” We must use this moment both as a reminder of our progress and a motivator to continue our fight in advancing racial justice. We all have a role to play.
For Silicon Valley Community Foundation and others in the philanthropic sector, we must continue to support and invest in people and organizations that are working to correct our country’s systemic injustices. We will continue to use our platform to speak out on these issues. This trial illustrated yet again that there is a terrible imbalance of power in our nation – so we will do all we can to build power for those who have not had it.
Please visit our Racial Equity and Social Justice webpage, which contains racial justice resources and guides to supporting local organizations working in this space.
I believe that, collectively, we have the will and determination to effect sustained and lasting change, and to create a world that is just and fair for all.