Cher, please take off your cape and just watch the Derek Chauvin trial
If you believe Black Lives Matter, use these 10 tips to stop discrediting your own points
Writer’s note on April 20, 2021: The jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of all three charges — up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. Judge Cahill revoked Chauvin’s bail and ordered he be remanded into custody after announcing the jury’s verdict. He will formerly be sentenced in eight weeks time.
Writer’s note: Cher has deleted her original tweet as of Mon., April 5.
Cher has apparently envisioned herself to be a superhero. According to one of her most recent Twitter posts, “I Know This Is Gonna Sound CRAZY,But.. I Kept Thinking …..Maybe If I’d Been There,…I Could’ve Helped.” My shoulders slumped reading this tweet because she’d just made an amazing point about Jim Crow laws and how racism influenced voting laws. Here we are once again with the white savior complex, and this is just not the time to make someone else’s tragedy revolve around you.
At this moment, I just want to hear trial testimonies. I’ve become a glutton for punishment and watched every witness in the Derek Chauvin trial twice. While I’ve muted my television and/or smartphone every single time I see Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s back and neck, I return to listening and watching whenever the testimonies start again. But this background heroism is distracting, and these opinions are becoming (almost) as exhausting as watching this trial. I beg you to just stop. Here are 10 things I really need you to cease doing while watching this Derek Chauvin trial.
Stop suggesting your celebrity presence would’ve made all the difference. Even when Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington showed up to diffuse an arrest, guess what happened? That man still went with the police. If being a legendary celebrity automatically created magic fairy dust to rid the world of all racism, Cicely Tyson would’ve done this in the ’60s during her “I, Spy” days. Or Harry Belafonte. Tina Turner. Marvin Gaye. The list goes on.
Stop assuming white women could’ve diffused the situation. While this Twitter conversation has randomly gone into white privilege tactics and how an older white woman could’ve stopped George Floyd, it’s wildly disrespectful to the witnesses who tried their damnedest — without getting killed themselves — to intervene, including firefighter Genevieve Hansen who took Eric Nelson to task enough that the judge actually had to tell her to stop “arguing” with him. If that white fire-fighting woman couldn’t do it, why are you arrogant enough to believe you could? What secret language do you believe you speak?
Stop telling everyone how you would never let this situation happen around you. If you are determined to have this superhero cape that makes all racism disappear, what has been taking you so long to stop the other 1,127 people who were killed in 2020? If you moonlight as Black Lightning or Wonder Woman or Iron Man or whatever other superhero you’ve decided to be, you should already know these people’s names and have saved them. Absolutely no one is stopping you from going outside to fight crime right at this very moment. Racial profiling didn’t stop nor start on May 25, 2020.
Stop asking others are they as “mad” as you are. You sound absolutely tone deaf to the entire reason the Civil Rights Movement, Black Wall Street and Black Lives Matter were created. Hell, you sound out-of-touch for why HBCUs were forced into being created. While you may be new to systemic racism, black folks (and other people of color) have been expressing these points for centuries. While it’s cool to see you finally jumped on the train and caught up with the rest of us, please do not ask black folks are we as outraged as you. You’re now in attendance, but you are late to an event that has long been going on. And definitely do not ask us to favorite or retweet your stance if we agree with you, as though your social media presence is vital to the case.
Stop telling us how “unbelievable” this trial is. Again, unless you were born last year, history has been proving itself true for many, many centuries. It’s not unbelievable. The bigger issue is you didn’t believe it.
Stop suggesting to black people to read black scholars and historical reports. This was a particularly bizarre debate I had on Twitter with a white lady who wanted to educate me on the 1619 Project as though she had the upper hand on discussing racism. Folks, if you went to a school worth its weight, you knew about 1619 before The New York Times reporters put pens to paper and letters to computer screens. While it is admirable that you have now advanced your black history education, this is not the time to have your Diversity 101 Lesson of the Day.
Stop calling what Derek Chauvin did an “MMA fight.” Attorney Eric Nelson made a terrible comparison of the way George Floyd died while trying to defend his client. One user went on to talk about how it “sorta” was in an MMA fight. No, it “sorta” wasn’t. Donald Williams, an eyewitness and actual MMA fighter, went on to dismantle this argument primarily because MMA fights do not involve three against one. The fighters are also not handcuffed and can tap out before they are killed in defense techniques. This was not a Pay Per View fight that went too far.
Stop trying to rationalize a 9 minute 29 second knee on a man’s neck — while two officers held him — as “All he had to do was get in the police car” and “If he wasn’t high … ” OK, we’ve established that George Floyd had a drug problem. Courteney Ross, his girlfriend, admitted they both did. Cashier Christopher Martin speculated on him potentially being high. We get that. But anyone who watched the video can clearly see him cooperating with officers from the sidewalk. I’ve yet to hear Eric Nelson give one rational explanation for why George Floyd needed to get into the back of a police car at all. Return the items. Take the counterfeit money. Ban him from the store. Problem solved. Whether you believe George Floyd was lying about claustrophobia, being melodramatic with a panic attack, or high as hell off of fentanyl and methamphetamine, none of this explains the 9 minute and 29 second suffocation. Even Minneapolis police Lt. Richard Zimmerman said it was “totally unnecessary” once Floyd was handcuffed.
Stop trying to one-up the minority struggle. Going back to the Cher debate, telling people that Cher is half-Armenian, half-Scottish, Irish, English, German and Dutch does absolutely nothing to help with the George Floyd case. There is this amazingly tone deaf thing that people do to try to defend how they know the “struggle.” They bring up black friends, black spouses or point out their minority relatives. Or, they will point out how they’re a minority who goes through things, too. Absolutely. No. One. Gives. A. Shit. It’s not a minority competition right now, and it’s OK to let someone else have their moment. You know what I did not do after I heard what Brandon Elliot did to the 65-year-old Asian American woman in Manhattan? Start talking about my life as a black woman. This was not about me nor my demographic. This was a heinous and horrifying instance of xenophobia. And I talked about her. While you may believe the world revolves around you, it does not. This case is about George Floyd’s murder and Officer Derek Chauvin who killed him. Hard stop.
Stop telling black people how sad you are and about your prayers — only to go back to your “life per usual” afterward. I have already been told I was “snarky” for calling folks out in the comment section of this post about the 6-year-old black boy who was arrested for pulling tulips. Why? I pointed out heartbreak and sadness do not outrank action. Change my middle name from “Latrice” to “Snarky” if you must, but I’m beyond tired of temporary sadness. I’m not telling you to jump to the front of the line of Black Lives Matter protests, sign a petition, run for political office or create a fundraiser. (But if you want to, I am 100% here for it.) All I’m asking is for you to open the conversation with relatives and your own social circle who you know for sure are on the side of people like Derek Chauvin — or worse, act like Chauvin already.
Until/unless you have conversations with them instead of preaching to the choir, we resolve nothing. Minority groups do it daily. We have no choice. We walk in our bodies all day long, so by default, some more than others (physical features, pigmentation, body types, neighborhoods, salaries all play a factor in how often) constantly have to speak up about race, classism and (for women) sexism. It’s your turn, and your tears simply are not enough. When this case is over, don’t shrug at the results and then go back to business as usual. Keep speaking up to right those wrongs before it gets this far. Call people out in real time, not just on Twitter.
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