A young girl with a BLM tiara holds up a sign with a picture of George Floyd that says


It’s Been A Year Since The Murder Of George Floyd And I Feel Helpless

Apr 15, 2021

It’s been a year since George Floyd called out for his mama, as former police officer Derek Chauvin publicly murdered him in front of a crowd of powerless bystanders. It was yet another reminder of Black pain, Black trauma and Black death. A reminder that systemic racism and the unjust killing of Black people in police custody should still be a conversation we’re all having.

Because of the pandemic, some people woke up a bit, and the trials of Black lives were publicly acknowledged. But has anything changed since then?

When Vanessa Magic heard George Floyd call out for his mama, she felt pain — because she's someone's mama. Read her piece here.

As I watch the trial of Derek Chauvin unfold, I have been struck by the testimony of a nine-year-old girl who bravely spoke about what she saw. I felt deep sadness as I listened to her tell the court that when the paramedics arrived on the scene and asked the officer to politely get off an unresponsive man, Chauvin continued his use of unnecessary force. It broke my heart listening to her say she couldn’t sleep, thinking about how she wished she could apologize for not saving his life.

I wonder what support will be offered to this young girl, who was unable to turn away from a situation that just should not have happened. I think about my niece who is the same age and how I would do anything to protect her from witnessing something so cold and so heartless.

"I don’t want [my son] to know yet that the world he lives in is filled with racial inequality and bias. ... That George Floyd looks like an uncle I have. That so many people who died at the hands of the police look like people we know."

There were also three teens on the scene watching a man die before their eyes, feeling helpless because the people they were always told would do the saving, were doing the killing. What a life changing experience for these kids. I couldn’t imagine having that image burned into my mind from such a young age. I think about my son and how scared and emotional he gets when we watch Disney movies and a character dies. I hope with all my heart that he never has to witness anything so painful and traumatic in person. That he never has to choose to stand up in the face of such adversity.

There were four trained police officers on the scene, who were more focused on detaining a handcuffed and unresponsive man than protecting the lives of the children nearby. Children who just wanted to help, but weren’t able to. Instead, they all filmed with their phones, documenting everything. To me, they are more courageous than all of the police officers combined.

I can’t talk about the trial with my son, he’s too young to understand what any of it means. If it comes up in conversation I am quick to change the subject. I don’t want him to know yet that the world he lives in is filled with racial inequality and bias. That not everyone has to have to "the talk" with their kids. That I feel anxious when I’m driving and a police car is behind me. That George Floyd looks like an uncle I have. That so many people who died at the hands of the police look like people we know.

"The talk: the inevitable conversation when racism comes knocking at our door." Tanya Hayles hasn't had the talk with her son yet, but she knows it's coming. Read how she's preparing for it here.

I, like the children who witnessed the murder of George Floyd, feel helpless. You’d think with all the eyewitnesses and the entire world watching multiple videos of his murder that it would be enough to convict Derek Chauvin. It seems so clear-cut, but I know it’s never that simple. The fact is, police rarely face consequences when they use excessive force. This is something I barely understand and feel incapable of ever sharing with my son. How can I explain why it’s fair that some people get immunity from their actions and others are simply not given a chance?

It’s a year later, and I hope for Black lives to have a higher value and importance, but wonder: will the same things keep happening? I have many friends who aren’t watching the trial of Derek Chauvin — I can’t blame them for not wanting to relive the pain of another black death. I can’t blame them for not wanting to share why they’re upset with their kids, because they can’t escape more stories of Black trauma, knowing full well things rarely change.

I wait with bated breath as the verdict comes in. But regardless of what happens, in my family, we believe everyone should be treated fairly. And if things are ever going to change, more people need to learn to feel the same way.

Article Author Vanessa Magic
Vanessa Magic

Read more from Vanessa here.

Vanessa Magic is a writer, award-winning costume designer and musician. She loves making up magical stories and singing songs to her adorable four-year-old son. When she is not in mama mode, she facilitates workshops with Inclusive Stylist Toronto, an initiative she co-founded that encourages inclusivity within the film industry for costume design and wardrobe styling. Currently, she is a participant in the BIPOC Film and TV Kids writing workshop where she is developing an afro-futurist science-based show.

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