After Chauvin verdict, hope rises of some racial progress


Jazzy Nguyen, Opinion Editor

Two weeks after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, some Black students and staff are hopeful that the verdict is a sign of racial progress.

Floyd’s death served as the catalyst for massive national and global protests in the summer of 2020, and helped usher an increased awareness of police brutality, which activists noted are all too common. The only difference is that more are being filmed.

“All of my brothers and sisters had a collective exhale,” said school counselor Joyce Davis after she heard the verdict. “It says that maybe a new day is dawning, and maybe police will look at their methods a little differently, to start training their force differently.”

She recounts her time as a teen when her dad had advised her on how to behave when a police officer pulls her over.

“‘You put your hands on the wheel … and you stay there until he or she asked you to move,’ “ Davis recalls her dad saying. “I don’t know of my white friends ever having shared with me that talk from their parents.”

Senior Patsy Fonkwo is hopeful that the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement continues its momentum putting pressure on the systemic racism she’s seen it highlight, from the justice system to housing, schooling and health disparities.

“(Black Lives Matter) has never just been about police brutality,” she said. “It’s also looking at those structures of our society and asking ourselves where those came from, and talking about it and trying to fix it.”

At Branham, the movement has encouraged more educators and staff and students to hold conversations about racism and social justice, and to be aware of their own prejudice toward Black students, from micro-aggressions to the casual use of the N-word among non-Black students.

“Everybody should working on combating their racism,” said senior Patsy Fonkwo, “instead of having minorities have to adjust their life around them.”

This is part of a longer story to be published in our upcoming issue.