One year on from the murder of George Floyd, various colleagues share their reflections of the last year, from Mr Floyd’s death to the Black Lives Matter uprising and Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction.
In this article, Sally-Ann Flemmings-Danquah, District Crown Prosecutor, shares her personal reflection.
All lives matter; this is 100% true because it is true. All lives, including Black lives, matter, and all lives should be speaking up loud and clear to those in the back and front of society who have no regard for the fact that Black lives matter too.
If we believe that all lives matter, then turning away, avoiding eye contact and ‘staying out of it’ does little to impact the necessary change. Instead, let us all show support for the lives of a section of our society that is being ripped away and told that they aren’t good enough and they don’t matter because they fit a stereotype and profile and because their skin is a different colour.
I should not have to sit my 10 and 12 year olds down and explain racism and why this has happened again in this day and age. I should not have to tell them that some people still deem them inferior due to their beautiful brown skin.
If all lives truly matter, then I’m looking for all lives to demonstrate that, not just Black lives. I want to show my children that irrespective of colour, race, creed and gender we are our brother’s keeper, and we all matter.
Almost one year later, I still wonder whether or not the horrific impact of the world watching a lynching in 2020 has made any difference. Are we now in a place where we can all confidently say that all lives matter?
I still have to buy my son’s clothes carefully, avoiding clothing that could lead to him being stopped because he fits a profile. I also continue to counsel him about how he presents himself whilst walking to school to ensure that he isn’t involved in any “trouble” based on how he looks.
I have taught both of my children about the principle of joint enterprise. I had hoped when they were born that I would not have to have ‘the talk’ with them; however, I realise that I was naïve in thinking so. I am compelled to teach my children about joint enterprise, ongoing racism and social injustice because it is a common experience in my community that one is ‘guilty’ by association.
I have countless personal experiences of either being stopped by police or of others within my family being stopped for driving while Black or being subject to a stop and search because they fit a profile.
One year on from this senseless and tragic lynching, I recognise that there has been some social progression. However, I fear that the impact of this lynching was short lived. I say this as I remember the incident on 3 March 1991 when Rodney King was beaten and the world stood in shock. I have to wonder what has changed since then, irrespective of the public horror?
As a prosecutor, I strive to ensure that injustice is avoided at all costs and I know my colleagues strive for the same. I am encouraged to have these frank conversations, and I am hopeful that by talking, we are empowered to act together personally and professionally to ensure that history does not continue to repeat itself.
The verdict, in this case, is a small step forward; however, it brings no comfort as the lynching should not have happened at all.