Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity’s.
As a longtime resident of downtown Minneapolis, I often get asked what my people are feeling during the trial that has the entire world paying attention. On the heels of another Black man, Daunte Wright, being shot dead, my phone has been ringing even more.
Daunte’s death adds to the communal trauma that Black people share. And let’s be honest, trauma for Black people, especially Black men, is different from anyone else in the world. And it’s this very trauma that we all get to relive when a trial of George Floyd’s size is underway for all eyes to see. Taking a year to arrive at a verdict when we have video evidence of what happened is not only irresponsible, it is cruel.
As for how we feel, well, I can tell you that we’re all doing one heck of a balancing act. We have one eye on the trial, and the other eye is focused on an attempt to live, get our work done, do our personal and professional jobs as though both our eyes were focused on our daily responsibilities.
I know firsthand that so many of my peers are suffering in silence with no safe space at work. No roundtables. No support systems. Little to no support from CEOs. There is a sense that many companies are silently waiting for the best outcome and are unsure of how to engage with those most impacted by the trial. We’ve seen the waiting on the sidelines approach before, and when the need for understanding becomes critical, it’s too late to start building authentic relationships.
Though we know what we saw — what the world has seen — we’re awaiting a decision that we must get right, or the consequences may be too much to bear. We are all thinking, yes, we’re hearing the same testimonies, but will the jury come through for us?
As the world awaits the court’s decision, Minneapolis feels the weight of the nation. As my community yearns for justice, it feels the weight of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Sandra Bland and many, many others.
In Minneapolis, we’re tired, and we are stressed. I personally think about the mothers of these slain Black children and how they must feel and what they need just to get out of bed in the morning.
Everyone thinks there’s a chance. And it’s on Minnesota’s shoulders, and believe you me, we feel that weight. Thankfully, we are starting to see the blue line crack. It’s faint, but it’s cracking.
But, what happens if justice isn’t served?
Well, those mothers I was just talking about? They will continue to relive the dreaded day of their child’s killing and the day in court that they did not receive justice. And the Black community? We get to relive all of the times we’ve been done wrong and received absolutely no justice. Everyone who has been pulled over for no reason or unfairly passed over for a promotion or assaulted by police. You see, it’s not just Derek Chauvin on trial; it’s everyone who’s escaped justice before him.
The sad part is that we still have three more officers who have to be tried for the murder of George Floyd, and now we need to add Daunte Wright to our ever-growing list of Black people murdered by police officers. And that’s just here in our own backyard. The ball is in our court, Minnesota.
Sharon Smith-Akinsanya is CEO of Rae Mackenzie Group, an award-winning diversity, equity and inclusion marketing firm, and author of ‘Colorfull: Competitive Strategies to Attract and Retain Top Talent of Color’. She recently founded People Of Color Careers™ Social Hiring Network to help professionals of color land their dream careers with employers who are serious about increasing racial inclusivity at all levels of the corporate structure. Learn more at BoldlySharon.com.