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Gaslighting America On The Murder Of A Black Man Didn't Work This Time

Nation Reacts To Derek Chauvin Trial Verdict
Across the U.S. people reacted emotionally to news that disgraced former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Flloyd.
(Spencer Platt
Getty Images North America)
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For the first time in a long time, tears rolled down my face Tuesday over good news.

Listen To Our Special On LA's Reaction To The Derek Chauvin Verdict

It took about 10 hours for 12 Minneapolis jurors to convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder in the death of a Black man, George Floyd. I was surprised. My friends and family were surprised.

We should not have been surprised.

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No reasonable person could have watched former police officer Derek Chauvin kneel on the neck of a man who called out for his mother as he was dying and thought the act was justified. Yet, over the past year, that’s exactly what Black Americans witnessed with incredulity in season 244 of America.

The brutal killing of George Floyd last May split a pandemic-weary nation, ending friendships and sparking long-overdue come-to-Jesus conversations with loved ones. Many people did their homework and came out as allies. They marched, they posted on their social media feeds, and they donated both time and money.

But others dug in their heels, convinced by the sitting president and far-right provocateurs that police brutality is a delusion, and that the racial reckoning that erupted in the wake of Floyd’s death was the result of a liberal ploy orchestrated by Democratic puppet masters. It was a thesis that ignored not just historic facts, but the experiences of an overwhelming majority of black Americans.

A bad guy lost Tuesday. A jury of his peers told the world exactly what America would no longer accept.

The shortsighted gaslighting by ratings-hungry opportunists was disappointing but not unexpected. As long as there have been Black Americans, there have been people all too willing to benefit from our subjugation. And, to be sure, there were many who, over the past year, peddled white supremacy under the guise of American values to those hungry for a return to those days before the economy went global and the nation grew increasingly diverse.

Today, I imagine, they’re hard at work packaging this conviction as a radical decision made under the threat of social unrest. Predictable. Sad.

Police are supposed to be the good guys. Many are. Many are not. And all too often, the bad guys have won in America. Laws have protected them, leaving families to mourn. People of color have come to expect it.

A bad guy lost Tuesday. A jury of his peers told the world exactly what America would no longer accept. A Black man was killed, and we did something about it.

Millions of people, bereft of hope for their nation, might feel a glimmer of pride today. My advice: lean into it. The Great American Gaslighting is over. The fight for justice is well on its way. White supremacists be warned: A new America was born today.

Updated April 20, 2021 at 6:45 PM PDT
This story updates to clarify what we meant by a pre-global society.