The truest voice of my heart has been praying for justice and safety around this case. Praying that something would stop what has felt like an impossible-to-stop tidal wave of Black and Brown bodies being taken too soon from this earth. I have barely been able to keep up with the names and details of each mass shooting and of the police violence incidents of late.
Refreshing my New York Times browser over and over waiting for the results, I had imagined I would cheer if a guilty verdict came in. Instead, I watched Derek Chauvin’s still eyes. They seemed unchanged as the verdicts were read. I watched his skin to see if he would flush. I watched his pupils. I saw no changes. Maybe he wasn’t surprised. Maybe he had been briefed and rehearsed his reaction? I did see him as human and all the people he has touched in his web. What a dreadful shame this happened in the first place. What happened to George Floyd was terrorizing. This murder was played out on all the news. We watched it. What about the ones that happen and have been happening for hundreds of years that we never know about?
But I did not cheer as each count was read. I felt nothing but sad. My sadness washed over me like a quilt weighing 300lbs. I am sad that George is dead. Sad that this police officer was part of cultures that taught him that treating people this way was acceptable. I am sad for all the children who watched this murder happen. I am bereft thinking about how this kind of racism happens. Every. Single. Day.
The first reaction I saw on the news was a woman, collapsing saying ‘We Matter. We Matter.’ As I scroll social media, I see many of you saying you are crying. Feel all your feelings friends. Let them out. Relief, joy, chills, anger, and the swirl welling up inside you. I see you. I feel them all right with you.
The trauma that has caused communities upon communities is so ghastly, I wonder, can it ever be healed? My wonder does not keep me from doing my best to make a difference. I do not feel guilty for what my ancestors and those around me may have done. I just feel called to help.
I look at our seven principles and I see lessons in this crime and how those UU principles were violated in every single one of those lessons. The whole set is a guide that we should value life, and the interconnected web and honor inherent worth and dignity of all people. This is a moment in time, one worth noting and holding, and it is a call too. This is a call to all of us to find ways to love up our Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQ, and poor neighbors. This is an opportunity for us to know that the things we do to end racism, matter. Whether it is sending a gift to someone who holds so much pain, or reading a book or learning about historical incidents of racism- there are so many things we can do to collectively heal our world. Holding our representatives accountable, making calls, volunteering and learning are all steps we are able to make.
This guilty verdict does not erase, does not heal and does not repair all the trauma put into our bodies, our communities, and our country. Hold today as important. It is a step. I hope it is a step among millions of steps needed to heal and restore.
Tomorrow, April 21, 7:30 pm CDT, Join the UUA, Side with Love, Black Lives of UU and DRUUMM for a virtual vigil in response to the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd. It will be broadcast on Facebook and perhaps on YouTube too- We will update links as we get them. https://www.facebook.com/events/1854253691417985/?active_tab=about
Let love prevail.
Assistant Minister for Pastoral Care
P.S. Reverend Suzelle is taking her ‘off’ week away this week. She and I are in touch and she joins me in holding you pastorally during this time. Know that myself and our Pastoral Care Team are here to support you as you journey together. We are all grateful for the steps UUCW has taken and will continue to take in addressing racism. The work matters. There is no one I want to be doing it with, more than my Unitarian Universalists siblings.