Americans who were horrified about the murder of George Floyd and protested police violence and over-policing of people of color throughout last summer breathed a collective sigh of relief when the jury in the Chauvin trial returned a verdict of “guilty” on all three counts on Tuesday. Mr. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, wrote this moving tribute in the Washington Post that speaks to what so many are feeling: exhaustion, relief, a sense of history moving slowly forward. The verdict is historic and we hope it is a strong first step towards more even-handed and less racially motivated dispensation of justice in the United States.
But there is still much work to be done. Hours before the Chauvin verdict was announced, 16 year old M’Khia Bryant was shot and killed by police responding to a 911 call in Columbus, Ohio. And in December of last year, two other Black citizens died at the hands of Columbus police: Casey Goodson, Jr., 23, and Andre Hill, 47. Many others around the country, including Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile and so many others have had the justice they deserved deferred or denied. We must continue to remember their humanity, the pain of their loved ones in the face of their tragic and unnecessary deaths, and the value to our society that was lost with them.
Unfortunately, this is not the first conversation about racism that we have had, nor will it be the last. We still have a long battle to fight against racism. Police violence against communities of color is just one of the scourges of society that destroys families and lives, and is certainly one of the most tragic and dramatic. We must not lose sight of the larger picture that inequality is pervasive across all aspects of our lives. Black and Brown communities also face economic, environmental, educational, and many other forms of injustice every day that are rooted in systemic racism.
Today is Earth Day, and the planet itself is exhausted and seeking a better life for its human and non-human inhabitants. When Earth Day was first celebrated in the US, more than 50 years ago, we couldn’t clearly recognize that racial justice might be connected to environmental justice, economic justice, and protecting the basic rights of life in all its myriad forms. Today we can. Let’s use that knowledge and recommit to building a world that values and respects the sanctity of all lives, that shares the planet’s resources fairly and equally, and that leaves our planet and people in a better condition than we found it.