A Native Daughter Grieves

I am grieving for my home state. I feel no anger or fear. Just grief.

I have two thoughts:

1. People who think one person can’t make a difference haven’t seen the image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on a panicked George Floyd’s neck. One person can make a difference…for better or for worse. This is why I’m a teacher, because the next generations needs to understand that the way they move through the world as individuals matters so incredibly much.

2. To the rioters of Minneapolis: fighting fire with fire is never constructive. Why are you decimating the city? Such a beautiful, artsy, unique, lake filled city? There is no other Minneapolis out there. You are destroying a place that is uniquely Minnesota, and I grieve for that.

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Unfortunately, George Floyd’s story isn’t new. It hits close to home, because it’s happening in my home state. I think the fact that the incident was recorded, that there is physical evidence of it happening, brings the incident to life, makes it seem more real. I also find the nature of the crime itself very unsettling: how can one human kneel on another human’s neck for a number of minutes, knowing full well that the other person is in pain? This is behavior that is sadistic in nature, and I find it hard to swallow that such behavior happened in a city I know and love. Yet, I know well enough that this isn’t an isolated incident. At the end of the day, whether a black man is shot or choked to death by American law enforcement, it’s all wrong, and it shouldn’t be happening. We need more faith and trust in our black men in America. Part of me fears for the black boys I’ve taught–that I’ve had the pleasure of teaching and knowing. This is the society we’re going to spit them out into?

They deserve better. We all deserve better. Senseless violence helps no one.

Change needs to happen. Why isn’t it happening? I’ve been thinking about the race riots of 1968 and wonder–is this 1968 all over again? We need to turn our collective anger and grief into something constructive, because how we’re responding now isn’t constructive. I wonder, is the Coronavirus making us lose our wits? In the words of a good friend, after over two months of staying at home and sheltering in place, “George Floyd is the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The mayor of Washington, DC, a city 1,100 miles away from Minneapolis, Minnesota, issued a city-wide curfew last night due to a growing concern about violent protests. Many other states and cities have issued similar curfews and/or states of emergency. We are a nation that is broken. Coronavirus or not, systemic racism is destroying this country, chipping away at any dignity it holds. This is not okay.

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Minneapolis,

I know that you are angry and grieving. I know that the whole nation is angry and grieving, but George Floyd died at the hands of a police officer in your backyard–it’s so devastatingly close to home. Know that I’m thinking of you, and that I hope you can heal in time. Don’t forget all that you are made of, all the reasons you are a city to love and believe in. This too shall pass. We cannot change what happened to George Floyd, but I do hope we as a nation can move into a better future where black men aren’t murdered on the streets in cold blood by the police officers who are supposed to ensure the safety of all citizens.

Much love,

A Native Daughter from Afar

Lake Harriet with Downtown Minneapolis visible in the background