This Derek Chauvin Trial Is Yet Another Form of Black Torture
The Derek Chauvin trial will be one of the most consequential trials of our lifetime. The ex-police officer who casually drained George Floyd of his life while pressing his knee into his neck as (some of) the world watched in horror is a tragic sign of the times we live in. It was the ease in Chauvin’s face and the smug look of domination and cruelty that recalled the haunting truth about White America’s love affair with abusing Black people and publicly torturing Black bodies. From the auction block to the whipping posts to the lynching trees to Chauvin’s knee, White America has long displayed its vicious side and for too long has never had to answer for it.
As we settle into this trial, Black America is forced to watch — and rewatch — the slow-motion murder of yet another innocent Black person as the prosecution works to show just how depraved Chauvin’s actions were on May 25, 2020. It’s beyond challenging and painful to relive this day as an onlooker with no personal connection to Floyd, but an intimate understanding, nonetheless. Floyd begged for his life 27 times. Twenty-seven times. He begged until he had no breath left with which to speak, and even still, as his body lay drained of its life, Chauvin’s knee remained. I can think of no better metaphor for what it is like to live and die while Black in America — under the weight of White supremacy — than this one.
The defense wants America to believe that it wasn’t Chauvin’s blatant disregard for human life and suffering that killed Floyd, but rather that Floyd contributed to his own death with drug abuse. The assumption being what — that Floyd would have died on that fateful day regardless of Chauvin’s actions? This is the story that is as old as White America itself. Sounds like the actions of an abusive spouse — except White America has never claimed to love Black people.
What makes this trial almost impossible to digest is that we aren’t sure — even with this video as evidence and the multiple perspectives discussed in the trial — that Chauvin will be convicted.