Thank You For Your Sacrifice

“Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice, for being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that — call out for your mom, ‘I can’t breathe’. But because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice.” These were Nancy Pelosi’s words yesterday on the announcement that Derek Chauvin would be convicted of the murder of George Floyd.

And what may follow is the usual social media backlash, along with a lukewarm statement that is supposed to be an apology. I guess. George Floyd didn’t volunteer for death, he didn’t willingly say I’m ready to be a martyr for the cause. So what is she thanking him for? I don’t think she misspoke though. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of what Black folks go through in this country and that misunderstanding is a key tenet of white supremacy. It’s part of the operating system, part of the bargain and promise of protection that one is afforded when born white. That Pelosi saw herself on the right side is telling, she was talking to her people letting them know we’re still safe.

Painting of a Black woman with a big afro wearing a black shirt with the text ‘Racism is Social Terrorism’ written in white text in all caps.
Painting by artist Tim Okamura

We don’t have the luxury of thinking that we don’t influence those around us. We don’t have the luxury of thinking that there’s nothing else to learn and that our assessment and understanding of someone else’s story is more valid than theirs. We do have the luxury of owning our own stories and ensuring that they don’t get twisted in ways that don’t serve us. And the story that white supremacy and its agents is telling is that all it needs to do is throw us a bone. On the same day that Derek Chauvin is convicted of the murder of George Floyd, we hear of the killing of Ma’Khia Bryant. That’s what white supremacy does, it morphs just enough, throws a bone while at the same time continuing to hunt us. And the bone isn’t for us, it’s for those who would prefer the polite rather than the overt expression.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke feeling like I’d spent the whole night talking. And maybe I had, processing even while asleep the events of the past few weeks. This feeling of being constantly hunted, it ebbs and flows. And you watch the world around you twisting and turning itself so that it doesn’t have to actually address the elephant in the room. Because at the root of it, they don’t actually intend to do anything about it. Not one bit. So I think in my sleep instead of resting.

I think about Toni Morrison’s words, about how the function of racism is to keep you from doing your own work. It keeps you constantly having to explain and prove the same thing over and over again. It’s not an explanation that’s needed. It’s a complete change of our entire society, it would involve pulling up every last root and starting fresh, after cleansing the ground, with brand new seeds that haven’t been tainted. Because it’s all tainted, grown from the same bitter seeds. And I don’t think we’re ready to change a damned bit of it. And because there’s no real will for change, only to get back to normal, the demands for explanations continue. Because the normal is about keeping you from living if not with actual death then with the sapping of your will, of your joy, of the time to do your own work. Folks are quick to voice hope. How can there be hope for better when we’re not willing to change ourselves? How can there be hope for better when folks are only willing to change how white supremacy shows up rather than give it up? Hope can only come with quantifiable action and I don’t see that happening. What I see is a continued negotiation for crumbs of humanity. It’s a ‘well I’ll give you that but’…there is always a condition.

Comedian Kevononstage.

So while others celebrate I don’t feel joy. Just this sense that we’re in a never ending game of Russian roulette and at some point our number will be up, my number will be up. And as long as I’m executed in the right way, and any impurity of mine proven, then this society will be fine with it. White folks will be fine with. And white supremacy and its agents can sit satisfied that it got its dose of blood while morphing just enough to continue to be acceptable. It can speak of my sacrifice for the good of the community. I was never given a choice about the sacrifice but that won’t matter. Because white supremacy promises that whiteness is forever innocent and must always be protected. And that conditioning is so deep and thorough that even those who are not white fall into the trap that its not whiteness that’s wrong. It’s others who don’t measure up. Their deaths just a mildly unfortunate side effect.

Time for brunch.

Musings, thoughts, and rants.