Reset America: Chauvin Must Be a Turning Point

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Because accountability should be the floor, not the ceiling.

Dear OZY Reader,

America stands at a crossroads following a year of racial protests, a deadly pandemic, political change and now the Derek Chauvin verdict. My thoughts are with George Floyd’s family at this historic, but also very personal, moment.

While many in Black communities nationwide chose not to tune into the proceedings in a bid to manage their expectations — a sentiment I understand given our nation’s history — I hope that Americans can look ahead with hope for change after yesterday’s guilty verdicts.

Too often, these cases have gone the other way. For Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, whose death led to no significant charges. For Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma, whose shooter was acquitted. For Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old whose “crime” was playing with a toy gun. 

Between 2013 and 2020, 98.3 percent of killings by police did not result in officers being charged. People remember that Martin Luther King Jr. said the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. But they forget that he also said that arc is long — sometimes far, far too long.

While thousands expressed relief after yesterday’s verdicts, many of us also felt anger and sadness — because greater racial justice and equity are not attained by a single case. Even as the ruling came in, we learned of the fatal police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio. 

As I wrote to you last summer, it is clear to me that we have a lot of work to do. While this is a step, and an important one, we have much further to go. Accountability should be the floor, not the ceiling.

Still, I hope the country can appreciate the progress made yesterday and keep up the momentum for reform. Please send me your thoughts today. What can America do to ensure no other Black Americans are wrongfully killed at the hands of police? OZY is committed to responding to this moment and helping foster a better future. That is why we ask readers to send us their ideas for resetting America — so that we can engage in debate around issues that matter, and work to bring about real, substantive and moral change.

In the weeks ahead, OZY will continue to engage in vital conversations about policing and racial justice in an effort to further our democracy and create a more perfect union. But while never losing sight of the obstacles that remain, I hope this conversation can soon give way to others: ones about Black history, Black excellence, Black joy and Black curiosity. The path to a deeper national understanding begins here.

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