I attend a small Methodist church, the only Black person in attendance. After a hiatus, given COVID-19 concerns, I finally returned to a live service, where my pastor rushed over afterward to give me a hug. It was good to be back, flesh and blood.
After other greetings, one member caught me to say when she heard the guilty Derek Chauvin verdict, since she knew few Blacks, she thought of me.
Like Floyd’s brother, who sat waiting for the verdict, I had prayed for a conviction. The evidence, including police testimony and the expertise of those who actually examined the body, was damning. Most powerful of all, of course, was the video, essentially a “snuff film,” shared by brave 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, herself threatened.
Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, said, “Publicity is the very soul of justice.” Frazier exposed injustice, but tapes can also help officers. In Columbus, Ohio, the videotape seemed to validate the actions of an officer who killed a 16-year-old girl. The transparency helped build community trust.
But I could not cry or celebrate the verdict. Perhaps there have been too many deaths, too much history, including my mother’s stories of Georgian lynchings.
And too many incidents of harassment exist, with Black men pulled over and asked if their new car was stolen. One white woman called the police on her neighbor who she called the “wrong color,” declaring the Black woman must be a drug dealer to afford such a house and drive a Porsche. They actually searched her house. Why?
At times, I fight despair. But Bishop Michael Curry, in his book “Love is the Way,” quotes a friend who reminds him in dark times, “The struggle continues.” Curry writes that “Our job is to do our job in God’s great movement of love in this world.”
I played a small part, at times, when, for instance, I decided to stay in a high school where I had been harassed. I wanted my graduation to be a small triumph. But I also found hope, too. Racist, even threatening words were scribbled on my locker. Telling the assistant principal that the words remained on my locker after a week, he showed real anger at the janitors who lied to him. He immediately marched over to my locker and cleaned it off himself. My teachers, too, were always fair.
It’s good to notice good. We see a few chips fall off the “blue wall” as Minneapolis police testified that Chauvin violated protocol and used “excessive force.” There is hope of a bi-partisan police reform bill.
Here, too, we hope. Locally, we saw the vandalism of a mosque in Moorhead. The façade was defaced with words and symbols of hate. Thankfully, the police diligently searched and found the culprit. Just as encouraging, however, was the community support. Not five or ten, but 400 people showed up to clean. Neighbors grabbed scrub brushes and buckets to serve as weapons of love to cancel hate.
Personally, hope remains even as I find myself in a church that welcomes me with open arms. The struggle continues, but hope remains.
Interested in a broad range of issues, including social and faith issues, Brickner serves as a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. She is a retired English instructor, having taught in Michigan and Minnesota.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.