Chauvin’s verdict promotes reflection upon selfless activism



Following Derek Chauvin being declared guilty of murdering George Floyd, Ma’Khia Bryant has additionally been killed. The recurring deaths of the black community due to law enforcement’s racist brutality exposes the need for legislation of human rights rather than accountability in one of many verdicts.

Elle Vail, Paper Arts Editor

May 25, 2020 started as any ordinary quarantine day. I made my way through the hours with Netflix and texting and Zoom. As I always did, I layed down in the evening to update myself on Instagram, but the pained eyes that stared back at me from the screen shook me and the world. 

I wasn’t politically active until George Floyd died. I would shy away from opportunities to express my beliefs; although I would quickly volunteer to counter the argument of a peer, I couldn’t find it in me to explain why I disagreed with friends who had been raised on ideas that were different from mine. In order to fight for human rights, we need to start being less selfish and put ourselves on the line for the good of humanity.

It shouldn’t have taken Floyd to die for me, or anyone, to acknowledge our divided country. It is so easy to be naive and uninformed and happy when we are ignorant. I was happy that way for a period of time.

It is so easy to celebrate the good in society when you don’t want to acknowledge the bad.”

— Elle Vail '23


You don’t have to deal with conflict; the sadness in the world doesn’t take its toll on you and the effort needed for difficult conversations isn’t necessary. So why did I change?

What drove me to change was that I couldn’t hide from Floyd’s death. 

I had never watched a grown man die on film before. Hearing Floyd mention his mom and how he couldn’t breathe humanized our news which so frequently normalizes death. This very human reaction allowed me to absorb the ugliness of racism in that moment where our law enforcement had failed us, as it has done frequently in previous times. This is when I understood the true ugliness of racism. 

I remember thinking that for my faith in the future of anti-racism, I needed to believe that everyone must know in some part of their hearts that turning on the television to see someone who breathes the same air as us be killed by law enforcement is unjust.

That is when I knew I needed to change to be more confrontational, self-informed and not hide away from the way our country systematically oppresses certain groups in society.

It has almost been one year since Floyd’s death and Derek Chauvin was just imprisoned on three accounts of murder, but on that same day Ma’Khia Bryant was shot. We need to stop congratulating our country for accountability in Floyd’s case and now view the oppression that persisted even amidst the verdict arising.

The verdict in itself was not justice. This was instead accountability. Justice would have been the trial being based on evidence separate from the video, such as witness accounts, and not primarily based upon the video of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck. I question if accountability would have even been served had this murder not been filmed.

In reality, this trial was an irregularity, as seen through this being the first time in US history that a white man was convicted of second degree murder of a black man. I also question if this outcome would have occurred if the world wasn’t watching and this case hadn’t gone “viral.”

Floyd’s death caused the sleeping world to open their eyes for one second.That was enough for me and so many more to latch on to activism. Imagine the impact we would have if we woke up for longer.