My tiny town hosted a vigil today for George Floyd.
I almost didn’t go – errands, introversion, desire to be home in the Canyon, crowd, people, pandemic.
Then I thought, “That’s really fucking lame, HDD.”
In some ways it was kind of weird. Everyone was masked and most wore some sort of hat so it was a gathering of faceless bodies. It was surreal and creepy and dystopian. Small children with masks. No smiles. No one touching. No hugs.
Conversations are brief. It’s too hard to carry on a conversation with a flap of fabric over your nose and mouth. No one wants to shoot the shit because the shit sucks.
Anyway. We have a minister, he’s the minister in town. Plenty of our residents don’t attend his church, including me. Plenty of folks attend other churches with their own Priests, Figureheads, Elders. Yet, this man is at the very heart of the community, so, of course he was the man leading this vigil with sadness and compassion and love.
I looked around at the pain in people’s eyes. So much grief. And it really hit home that this is happening in the middle of a pandemic.
The world is really going to shit right now. It is frightening. It is crushing.
A young teen spoke to the crowd about her experience of being the only African American girl in the entire school. She was eloquent and honest. The crowd hung on her every word. Her Mamas must have been so proud.
And then, 8 mins and 46 seconds of silence.
Stand, Sit, Lie down with your arms pinned behind your back. Whatever you want to do.
I was sitting with that powerful young lady and the minister’s wife, and just as I was about to get prone, the gal says, “I can’t do that. That’s too traumatic.” In solidarity, I sat.
My point in telling you that is to say that for the next almost-9 minutes I was sitting comfortably, not prostrate with my face against asphalt and my arms twisting out of their sockets.
As I sat I thought, “I don’t have a full-grown man on my back. I’m with friends. I’m in the park. It is silent, peaceful. I am safe. I am not in fear for my life. I will walk away from this.
I. Can. Breathe.”
That 8 minutes and 46 seconds was hellacious. It went on and on and on. I kept thinking that the watch had broken or the preacher passed out.
It is a very long time during which I tried so hard to put myself in George Floyd’s shoes, tried to imagine his experience during those moments. His last.
It was too much. I couldn’t do it. It is too horrific.
And yet, this is what we all need to do. Sit. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds. See what a huge amount of time that really is. Try to imagine George Floyd’s last reality. His physical pain. His fear.
Not only must we educate ourselves on all things racism but we must also attempt to understand the feelings that result from these skewed inconsistencies of the value of individual lives.
And I don’t know, I’m just a white girl but, I believe that if something that is being inflicted upon our fellow human beings by our fellow human beings is too awful to contemplate, then it must stop. Immediately. Period.