Gray Matters, May 2021
Reflection on the Derek Chauvin Verdict
On the Tuesday afternoon that media began to report that the jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trial had reached a verdict, I found myself glued to a screen. I exchanged a few texts and emails with colleagues and friends, but my ability to focus on other meaningful work was lost. I was experiencing classic signs of worry.
As an individual with privilege, my worry is not tied to concern for my personal safety. I am not fearful of routine traffic stops. I have three teenage children, two of whom are driving. I worry plenty when I know they are on the road; however, when they are out and about, it is my privilege and theirs that I do not worry about my white children’s interaction with authority.
My worry on the day of the verdict announcement centered around a more fundamental concern. That afternoon I feared that the outcome of this trial would once again fail to demonstrate justice to communities of color. George Floyd’s death is a tragedy. The video that captures it illustrates the terrible burden of proof that is too often required for justice when a person of color is murdered or assaulted as in the increased attacks on Asian American citizens.
Derek Chauvin was justifiably found guilty on all three counts in the trial for the murder of George Floyd. Nevertheless, feelings of uncertainty and worry surrounding the jury’s outcome speaks to work that must continue. Video footage should not be required to convince us that George Floyd was murdered. Nor should video footage be required to convince us that systemic change is necessary. The witness of communities of color in particular should be enough. The collective anxiety, tears of relief, and the deep exhale especially from the younger generation speaks to just how many past witnesses have not been believed and how much work there is still to do.
What we saw through the verdict was accountability—the first step towards justice. We must continue as a school community to engage in a commitment to teaching and learning centered around racial justice, equity, and inclusion. We live in a moment that is imploring us to listen, learn, and believe. It is time for action.
Capitol Hill Day School DEI Vision and Mission Statement
As diversity, equity and inclusion practitioners we work alongside parents and children in the Capitol Hill Day School community to have a deeper understanding of our identity, to acknowledge similarities and differences, and to raise our consciousness of the intersectionality of these identities for healthy relationship building. From this solid foundation we guide our community in considering how injustices affect others, what constitutes an injustice, how injustices develop, and how they can be dismantled. All members of the CHDS community understand that respect for the human dignity of each individual is paramount. Through this understanding and a strong community commitment to social justice, CHDS recognizes and fights injustices in all its forms.