I’m sitting at Bob’s Java Hut on Lyndale watching and waiting for the verdict to be read. Hitting refresh on the browser is forcing my computer into a temporary freeze, as it was bought in 2011 and most likely is operating on an archaic amount of RAM that suits nothing more than Microsoft word at this point. However, I’m hitting refresh again, and again, and again, and… there it is. He’s not guilty.
Some Twin Cities news station with a smiling white man on its cover page is reporting that Offcier Yanez has been found not guilty in the murder of Philando Castile. My heart goes still, my mind repeats “told ya”, and just kind of sit here. I want to karate chop this table in half, and then tell all the white people in this coffeeshop to leave so I can have a moment. Alas, there are no moments in the face of injustice and tragedy. It’s all one big moment you sometimes drudge through and sometimes swim through. The pool of disparity, inequity, and white privilege becomes something you just learn to either drown or float in. It ebbs and flows, and right now it’s still as morgue.
Once the jury took longer than a day, I felt this verdict was inevitable. The checks and balances of the DA to the police, and back from the police to the DA, seems to feed itself in a system built to maintain whiteness as the dominant, and black as the presumed criminal ‘til proven innocent.
And now I’m crying in the coffeeshop. The idea that younger versions of me are running around looking at the headline and can somehow wrap their brains around the fact that they’re not worth living, decays my heart at its core. After working an entire 5 months with young men of color from ages 6-13, it’s overwhelming to know that they’re being delivered not only this verdict, but the message that we are 2nd class citizens in the eyes of the judicial system. My greatest fear is not that there will never be justice for Philando, it’s that young black men will believe we don’t deserve the justice. The verdict unto Yanez is not only a pass for him, it is a pass to all police officers and the inherently racist culture they’ve built since their inception.
I am heartbroken, and yet I will not rest here. The fight continues, as must I, and the rest of us.