Seeking Justice Beyond the Courtroom
Today the nation’s attention is focused on a courtroom in Minnesota where soon there will be a final verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin who is charged in the killing of George Floyd. For several days jurors have heard from numerous witnesses and experts. But there are two people no one heard from – George Floyd and Derek Chauvin. George Floyd’s life and voice were squeezed out of him the day Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck. Derek Chauvin chose to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to not speak at his trial. Amidst the protests, marches, speeches, and commentary, racial injustice in American today is marked by a deafening silence in that Minnesota courtroom. At the center of this unsettling quiet is a Black man silenced by force, and a white man silent by right.
The verdict in the case against Derek Chauvin, charged in the death of George Floyd will likely come soon. There may be a decision, but whether we find justice today is another story. Racial justice today will not come at the hands of one decision, but many. Decisions at the voting booth (should everyone be given equal access to vote). Decisions in our communities (should redlining and unfair lending practices not be used to keep people from owning homes). Decisions in the workplace (should there not be a concrete ceiling keeping People of Color out of leadership positions). Decisions in our schools (should children of color not be denied access to quality education due to school pushout and under-resourced schools in communities of color). It is decisions in all of these spaces where we may find justice. It is in these spaces where we can decide whether we work to maintain systems and structures that protect privilege or we build new human-centered, equitable structures that honor the human dignity of every person.
Decisions in these spaces to bring about justice will come at a price. What is justice worth to us? What will we pay for racial equity? What are we paying to protect and what we are paying to change? George Floyd’s voice was taken from him. While we still have our voices, how will we use them to ensure that privilege isn’t paid for using the currency of another person’s life?
When our journey to justice begins with learning, we prepare ourselves for the work ahead. Know More. Do More: YWCA Library of Racial Justice Resources
The YWCA West Central Michigan inspires hope and healing when racism and sexism converge. Where these issues manifest as domestic and sexual violence, we transform lives with expert services for victims, education to end those things that fuel abuse, and public policy that translates our mission into law.