I am happy with the outcome of the Chauvin Trial.
I understand the historical gravity of this moment,
and I am hopeful about American life this afternoon.
As a lawyer friend pointed out on FB, “This is accountability. This is
not to be confused with ‘justice.’” — She said something to that end.
The distinction is what interested me immediately.
How can there be justice? A man is dead. A man’s life has abruptly,
and far too soon, ended. Justice would be resurrect that man
and give him and his loved ones another chance, but a good chance.
Death doesn’t work that way. Death is permanent. As Socrates said,
“whether I go to the worse place [death], or the better [death] is known
only to the gods.” — Something like that. Loose translation.
Maybe Mr. Floyd is better off where his soul is at now.
I don’t know.
Nevertheless, I don’t believe that in a civil society
anyone should be able to take another human life
without accountability. “Taking life” doesn’t even
only mean bodily death. It means spiritual death.
It means killing someone’s heart and mind. And
we have so many systems in this country that
for far too long have been operating machines
that are greased by human suffering. Justice is when
the machine is no longer greased with trauma.
I am happy for the Floyd family. I do hope they are
financially compensated, generously, handsomely,
absurdly. I hope they are given a positively obscene amount
of Paper Money because there is no amount of Paper Money
in the world that could even approximate the importance and significance and meaning of George Floyd’s life — not just in regard to those
who knew and loved him but in regard to what he, however inadvertently,
gave to America, a country that was not made with his best interests in mind.
There will be accountability for Floyd’s murder.
Justice takes a lot longer.
Justice is when the police stop murdering citizens.
Justice is when the police stop brutalizing and terrorizing citizens —
particularly Black, Indigenous, and brown citizens.
In closing, I want to share a story. My mother and I talk often about race, which is good because we need to be bringing our White Baby Boomer relatives and friends in on these conversations, too. And we were remembering this time in high school when my brother did something incredibly stupid that involved a fake gun. We both agreed, without hesitation, if my brother had pulled that shit while Black in our Chicago suburb, we would be talking about my brother in past tense. Does that mean my brother “deserved” to have been killed for a teenage stunt? No. It means that would have been a terrible fucking tragedy for my family. And it means that we need to extend the same courtesy to Black teenagers, and Black men
who — just like every other human being — makes mistakes in their American Life.
If you want more than just “accountability,” consider this:
White Supremacy not only exists, it reigns supreme in this country.
Racism is systemic. Every inch of American culture is soaked in it.
I have a weird thing with dishtowels (I think I came by this through a genetic line of women who love dishtowels). Sometimes, a dishtowel gets so fucking filthy there’s no point in trying to save it. I have to let it go. Much of the time,
however, even the filthiest of my dishtowels can be laundered, wrung out, repaired, reused. So I guess this is to ask you, America: which systems do we wash and wring out and which systems do we need to finally, at long last, throw out?