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May 25, 2020 – a day that would shift history! by Michelle Wadleigh

geroge floyd justice minneapolis racism Apr 22, 2021

We will never forget the day that George Floyd lost his life. You know where you were, just like you know where you were when the towers went down when Princess Di died in a car accident.

George Floyd’s death left an imprint on the world and the world rose up, saying they had had enough. Losing his life called many to stand, march, speak, and take action. I remember feeling the call to say something, write something, and to do something. It didn’t matter if my comments coalesced agreement or if anyone approved. I needed to speak my mind. I would take a position that was unshakable. I’m glad I did and I will never be the same again.

George Floyd did not die in vain. George made many of us better allies and through the great tragedy of his murder called for us to stop being in denial and, we were – as a society, invited to make a difference in our country’s history. When Roger Bannister ran the first 4-minute mile, he opened the door to 1,497 others to do the same. He opened the door and held a marker for others to reach.

Well, decades of sloppy police practices along with grossly, inadequate legal responses, police officers hiding behind the blue wall as well as, everything related to how we police in this country, is now under the microscope.  And, although we are too smart to believe that everything will now change and be forever different, the truth is we have set a new marker. The world is watching. We now know what justice can look like and we must remain vigilant.

On a personal note, I admit to you that as I watched the news awaiting the verdict, I was frightened. We, this country, the world, and all who care were collectively holding our breath. Tears flowed down my face – some from relief and some out of sadness. Yes, I’m exhilarated that justice prevailed and I am sad to feel celebratory about putting another man in jail.  As I watched him hear his verdict, I couldn’t help but wonder, “is he in touch with the impact of his actions?” Did he at any point come to the awareness that his disconnect from George’s life and his lack of respect for George’s humanity was so incredibly egregious? Did he ever have an: ‘Oh my God, what did I do’ moment?

I am a formidable woman, teacher, and white ally and, I am also not one to turn against all law enforcement. I WANT BOTH protection and respect from a police force that is genuinely created to protect and serve all of our citizens – EQUALLY. I served as an EMT for many years so I have great respect for the role that police officers play but this doesn’t diminish the necessity for the accountability of each police officer. The badge is NOT a pass. We must expect and demand more from those who hold great power.

The end of RACISM cannot be legislated. For this beautiful country of ours to finally experience its full potential, we as a society must heal – all of us, people of all shades from all walks of life. Now, let’s start this journey of healing with our emotional and spiritual essence. Let us put a new educational system in place, beginning with rewriting our history books! We can never fully heal if we are hiding. WE MUST HEAL OUR NATIONAL SHAME!

I commit to doing my work, to heal, to continue my education, and to speak truth to power! I hope you find within yourself the same desire. Let’s make this country a place that’s safe and loving for all of our people.

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