No one was afraid of George Floyd

No one was afraid of George Floyd

Anyone watching the trial of Derek Chauvin being charged for George Floyd’s murder should take note of how kind, funny, and not scary George Floyd was. Black, white, Latino, Asian, Indigenous as you watch that trial does Derek Chauvin seem frightened or scared to you? He is not afraid.

When white people kill Black people and say they are afraid, they are lying. I don’t even think the average Black person believes that, but it’s true. They are not scared of us. They say that to make a spectacle and to get away with murdering us and to elicit sympathy for the “white trauma” they endured for the experience.

What makes this trial so hard for me to watch is that you get to see so much of George Floyd. Police murders that are shootings are typically quick. This murder was long and drawn out, like a public short drop hanging. You saw George in line. You saw George say hi to his friends. His personality shined through even the security cameras. Owing to the fact I saw George as a person that I could know, it made watching the police murder him appear more sadistic for me than usual.

It was a horror movie. It was midwest gothic.

After the police were called, George Floyd was audibly terrified. He was begging for his life. I had seen that kind of begging before, when I was a child. I knew if I saw it, it meant someone was getting ready to possibly die.

That is why when the elder Black gentleman, Charles McMillian tried to intervene, it was so courageous. Everyone Black knows what happens in that situation, because we have all seen it. In the video, it is clear Mr. McMillian was terrified they were going to kill George Floyd (and might kill him). I knew the ending, and yet I also was terrified they were going to kill George Floyd.

Young Black children witnessed this. Judeah, 9, third grade:

“They asked him nicely to get off of him. He still stayed on him.”

In the community, you are trained early that white police officers do not care. So to help people often say some version of “ just comply,” but that is never what people actually mean. What we mean is god help this person. We think maybe we can distract the cop long enough, and they’ll get another call and leave, “just comply” is the most useless and Hail Mary of prayers.

The young Black teenager, Christopher Martin was terrified on the stand. He was bullied in his job. His job expectations included that society’s problems would be taken from his paycheck. Christopher was terrified of his manager and his boss. Christopher was happy to have a job. They don’t hire Black teenagers. We have the highest unemployment rate as they say we’re bad workers, so when we get a job, typically we do the best job to show them how good we are.

I knew all the personalities who took the stand. I knew that Black neighborhood, because that was my experience. The convenience cashier Christopher Martin was a double of my baby cousin, Judeah reminded me of the little kid next door, Mr. McMillan could have been my uncle, and George was another in a long list of my kind brothers murdered by the police.

People take liberties with Black people they don’t take with anyone else, violent privileges. If I’m in a racially diverse room, white men are never who people critique first, it is Black people. Even in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) workshops, the first question is typically why so much focus on Black people or some variation. Moderators of DEI workshops have taken to making statements at the top of their talks of why they have to also talk about Black people in DEI workshops, and people roll their eyes.

Typically we’re friendly about it, because we are afraid of what might happen if we just explain.

Over 50 percent of the US homeless population is African American and many are veterans. We’re more likely to be killed by the police, and in metro areas, anything horrible is more likely to happen to us.

And the lie they use is we weren’t agreeable and were scary. Anyone watching the video can see that George was friendly and good-looking. I think that was one thing that struck me because I had seen many unflattering pictures.

George was actually an attractive and friendly man.

Look at every Black person in the video and who took the stand. They are the ones who are demonstrating fear. Fear of going to jail, fear of being murdered, fear because of all the things that white supremacy does to kill us.

Derek Chauvin face displayed on fear, because Derek Chauvin had no fear.

Witness Donald Williams II, a Black man trained in martial arts, was too afraid to do anything, because he was frightened of what the police might do to retaliate.

Police, teachers, random drivers in cars, neighborhood watch people are not afraid of Black people. We are a hyper-visible minority and often the smallest group. Our hyper-visibility has nothing to do with our numbers.

Historical violence by the institution of white supremacy is always in the back of Black people’s minds, who are sane. Those of us who are not broken are not scary to anyone, especially the security apparatus.

No one who has any power is in fear of Black people. People don’t sit on the neck of someone they are afraid of for nine minutes.

People don’t tell their Black employees they will take a passed counterfeit bill out of their paycheck if they are scared of their Black employees.

The police are not killing Black people because they are afraid of us. The police kill us because we are a hypervisible, small, disempowered group that is a low consequence sacrifice to control the general population.

The most dangerous place for Black people, is in the lies that white people tell.


Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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