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Memorial Day Weekend. That’s how I’ll always remember it. A day customarily designated for ubiquitous reverence for our nation’s armed forces, but for the last couple years, it has meant something entirely different.
We often hear legendary tales of the Buffalo Soldiers or Red Tails, brilliant Black soldiers who succeeded in the face of insurmountable odds established by a U.S. military who often mirrored the prejudiced society those same soldiers swore to defend with their lives. However, the ongoing war at home continues to claim countless souls and unfortunately most casualty stories remain untold.
A similar fate was nearly sealed just outside of a Cups Food in Minneapolis, MN on Monday, May 25 2020, but thanks to a viral video that can never be unseen, it appears actual change isn’t on the horizon, but right in front us.
Individual wins but no systemic change
More recently we’ve seen ‘Guilty’ verdicts in court cases for the deaths of both Ahmaud Arbery and Daunte Wright. Conclusions once thought improbable are now occurring with a degree of regularity that feels somehow overdue yet equally unpredictable.
Today social justice advocates and activists dedicated to real change are still hard at work making the criminal justice system fair for all. It’s clear organizers for justice gained momentum following the just ruling against former police officer and current inmate Derek Chauvin.
Even still, the hardest truth about George Floyd’s movement – while groundbreaking and globally mobilizing – seems to have only been a moment in time. It took a global pandemic, abject stillness, and an entire video displaying a heartless and blatant disregard for human life for America at large to face a reckoning with what many consider normal.
Society has moved on from police brutality
Nowadays with states teetering somewhere between open and wide open, America will likely never experience a complete shut down again like in May 2020 when a viral video of police misconduct captured our collective attention just like the subsequent trial itself. I’d like to strike a more optimistic tone but when you consider the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is nowhere near passing through Congress, it’s a stark reminder how this stagnant system has remained flagrantly flawed for so long.
The hard truth is that American society has moved on and it is no longer trendy to march, kneel in Kente cloth, paint street art, #BlackLivesMatter or Black Out social media profile pictures.
While murals are beautiful and platitudes about reform are nice, they simply do not change anything. The lasting legacy of George Floyd deserves to be something tangible, not a temporary aesthetic designed to make us “feel better”. Until the people we voted into office deliver on campaign promises, the hard truth is ‘Justice’ is merely another aspirational seven letter word, much like America.