By now, you’ve heard the news that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. This verdict represents a long-overdue measure of accountability — there should be consequences when police murder our loved ones.
Seven years ago, I sat at a bar on the eve of the George Zimmerman verdict in 2013, and I was sure that he would be convicted in the murder of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin. And when he was acquitted, something shifted in me. Though I knew the failings of the criminal system in delivering justice for any of our families, I was sure that Zimmerman would not be allowed to get away with murder. Sadly, he did. It was at that moment that we created #BlackLivesMatter, to build a world where our lives would be respected.
This verdict is the impact of the shift in our culture, our norms, and our values, that we have been pushing forward for the better part of the last decade through this movement. It is work that we have done together, and it is proof that we can be the superheroes in our own stories. In my lifetime, I have seen the acquittal of the officers who brutally beat Rodney King on video. I have seen the acquittals of vigilantes and police officers who kill in our communities. And we have all seen the acquittal of an economy, a democracy, and a society that still does not value Black lives.
To be clear, this verdict is not justice. This verdict marks that it is possible, in this society, for there to be consequences for killing us.
Justice, however, is still fleeting. Justice would be George Floyd alive and thriving.
That’s why we do the work we do here, at the Black Futures Lab and the Black to the Future Action Fund. We work to make Black communities powerful in politics so that we can be powerful in the rest of our lives. We work to change the rules that have been rigged against our communities for generations, rules that allowed police officers like Derek Chauvin and vigilantes like George Zimmerman to escape any consequences for their actions, rules that produce conditions in our communities so dire that we are constantly fighting for our right to survive. We work to unrig the rules and implement new ones that allow us to thrive. We work to build our capacity to be the superheroes in our own stories. Visit our sister organization, Black to the Future Action Fund, to learn more about what you can do to make justice real in our communities.
Justice can never be found in jail cells, or even in guilty verdicts. Real justice comes when we change the rules of the game that create suffering for all of us. Join us in winning real justice for our communities.
From our hearts to yours,
Alicia and the Black Futures Lab team