Relieved and Grieved: My reflections on the Derek Chauvin verdict

Relieved and Grieved: My reflections on the Derek Chauvin verdict April 21, 2021

I am relieved and I am grieved.

I am relieved that a semblance of justice has taken place.

I am grieved because this is only one instance of thousands and tens of thousands in which justice has not been rendered.

(There would be no need for the Equal Justice Initiative if there was already equal justice).

I am grieved because justice on a daily basis is still not equitable.

I am grieved for the thousands of people of color that have been lynched and found no justice.

I am grieved because regardless of what happened in the courts yesterday, a man is still not coming back to his family. He never will.

I am grieved today because a man is going to spend a long time in prison (yes, it may be just, but it is still tragic).

I am grieved because I know this verdict has not changed the daily reality that people of color face.

I am grieved because racial injustice reminds me of my own culpability.

I am grieved today because I still fear for law enforcement officials across the country. I believe that most of them are not racists. They have devoted their lives to a life of social service. They work in difficult circumstances and face horrendous incidents almost every day. And though they do this as public servants, they are too often deemed the enemy.

I am relieved because I hope that this case marks a watershed moment in our history.

I hope so.

I hope so for the sake of the people of color who have not experienced the same benefits of the rule of law that I have.

I hope so also for law enforcement officials. After all, if all unjust acts are punished as criminal acts, then, perhaps, the few law enforcement officials that have racial hatred in their hearts will not be tempted to contravene the law.

I am grieved today because we must acknowledge that one case does not establish the norm. It might simply be an exception.

I am grieved because I know that racial injustice flows downstream from racism. And one verdict will not eradicate racial hatred. I fear, in fact, that this one verdict may foster more racism.

I close with this thought:

I have been blessed to travel much of the world: Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. My experience is that the US’s greatest feature is the rule of law. In saying this, I recognize that I speak as a well-educated, middle-class, white, male.

You see, though I am relieved that justice has been served, I am grieved because I know that the rule of law that I experience is not the rule of law that many others experience. I hope this event marks the beginning of a long road to difficult changes.


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