The Derek Chauvin Verdict Won’t Stop Cops Murdering Black People. We Still Aren’t SafeRoundup
tags: racism, Police, Tucker Carlson, George Floyd
Kellie Carter Jackson is the Knafel assistant professor of the humanities in the department of Africana studies at Wellesley College. She is the author of Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence.
Since last May, the world has been waiting for justice for George Floyd, who was killed on the streets of Minneapolis after trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. Today, the jury found police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. It was an emotional verdict, in what has been an emotional year since his killing. How are we to receive this moment?
This verdict has been a long time coming. And it’s been a painful, difficult wait. Many times, I have had to remind people that it was Derek Chauvin who was on trial, not George Floyd. Over and over, people questioned Floyd’s history, his drug use and his actions – anything, that would shift the blame for his own death away from Derek Chavin. As WEB Du Bois once wrote: “Nothing in the world is easier in the United States than to accuse a black man of a crime.” That is still true today.
Despite all we have gone through – despite all the protests, activism and calls for justice – we still see black people as criminals. Perhaps the most arduous task of the prosecution was not to prove that Chauvin played a role in Floyd’s death, but to prove that Floyd was in fact, a human being. A deep-seated and pervasive culture of racism is to blame for the fact that his humanity was ever in question.
As historians, the greatest opposition we can show white supremacy is to tell the truth. I have grown tired of politicians and pundits claiming that Chauvin was a bad apple or an anomaly. No, the truth is, he is a mirror of white supremacy. The violence he committed was white supremacy in its purest form.
For some, to mention this obvious fact is to be “divisive”. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson issued a hateful diatribe about the trial, in which he said that: “No one on CNN actually cares about George Floyd now. What they care about is you and your role in the systemic racism that supposedly killed George Floyd.”
The purpose of speaking about racism, Carlson said, is to “punish you and to change America”. That, he said, is “why they are replaying that video of George Floyd dying on the sidewalk, to remind you of all of that, of your culpability in his death”. Carlson goes on to say that, “If the Floyd [Chauvin] trial ends in acquittal, there could be riots. We accept that as a fact of life in this country. No civilized country should accept that, but suddenly we do.” Apparently, Carlson thinks a civilized country should accept black Americans being killed in broad daylight by police.
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