Welcome to Issue 55.2 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
Today’s news, fermented:
content warning: discussion of police violence
I wasn’t sure where to begin this morning, reading the news published since Derek Chauvin was pronounced guilty yesterday on all three counts in the murder of George Floyd.
What do we call this thing? It is both a victory and a failure. A victory because all too often, white cops murder Black people and face no consequences. A failure because the nation watched with bated breath—truly unsure if a jury would convict a white cop for murdering a Black man on camera, viewed millions of times.
As has long been the case, individual triumphs are needed, but rarely are a referendum on the systems that created the conditions in which we look for these wins. Justice would be George Floyd alive today, and that was never a potential outcome of this trial.
And—organizing works. Remember when the trial was referred to as ‘the George Floyd trial’? Organizers turned that train right around, insisting that George Floyd was not on trial, and it was pretty horrific to suggest as much. Reading Twitter headlines this morning, even controversy about whatever was said on Fox News last night referred to the Chauvin trial. Another small victory.
Or: we needed the largest uprising for racial justice in American history to get one white cop convicted for murdering one Black man. That’s no victory, especially when Daunte Wright was murdered by another white cop just miles away from the courtroom where the Chauvin trial was held, and Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year old in Columbus Ohio, was murdered by a cop around the same time the Chauvin verdict was announced.
It is a testament to the stranglehold white supremacy has on this country that we talk about acts of police violence on the timelines on other instances of the same.
Also: In the words of Courtney Ross, George Floyd’s girlfriend and Daunte Wright’s former teacher, “George Floyd is a movement.” A movement now known by the demand to defund the police and abolish prisons—rhetoric effectively banned from American discourse until 11 months ago.
Again, organizing works; while chants demanding justice for George reverberated around the country and the world, that real concrete demand emerged. Finally, the white public (if not the officials who represent us), began to understand that meaningful solidarity with Black and brown people must include the dismantling of systems that maintain racial (and class) hierarchy in this nation.
Which brings me to another thought. Now that the national conversation has allowed the idea of abolition of police and policing into our discourse, we must pause. Is it abolitionist to celebrate the condemnation of someone (who must be held accountable for murder) to prison?
The next tweet: “i know it feels too soon for this, which is exactly why i want to remind myself of it.”
And the next: “also, peep how MK [Mariame Kaba] doesn't say that *feeling* relief or joy or release is not abolitionist. She says that *advocating* for caging people is not - the flip side of "abolition is not about your fucking feelings" is YOU CAN UNAPOLOGETICALLY *FEEL* EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL IN THIS MOMENT”
Always, nuance. Feeling relief at this verdict can coexist with commitment to the abolition of the system that made us need this verdict.
One last thought, before we face another day of white supremacy in Amerikkka: white people, what did you commit to last May? Are you still doing it? If not, what do you need to get yourself to do it, and can you turn to other white people for support?
If you are able and interested in contributing to a therapy fund for Black women and girls, so often those tasked with demanding justice for murdered Black boys and men, check out the Loveland Therapy Fund.
Keep caring for each other, fighting for the world we need, redistributing the resources you have, and asking for help to rise to the occasion that is now.
Back at the end of Ramadan from the superb Latifah Azlan.