This is How It Feels

THIS IS HOW IT FEELS.

Not elation but relief. Not celebration but reflection. Not an end but perhaps a new beginning.

Guilty verdicts for Derek Chauvin in the murder (we can now say murder) of George Floyd won’t erase centuries-old systemic racism. It won’t heal a broken America, won’t eradicate discrimination, won’t make us safer. We still have much work to do.

But I remember Rodney King — we had a video then, too. I remember Amadou Diallo, unarmed, in a doorway, shot 41 times. I remember Trayvon Martin, killed for walking while wearing a hoodie. And while nothing can bring them, or George Floyd, or 13-year-old Adam Toledo back to life, today’s verdict’s in the Chauvin case can give us hope that justice is possible, and that anyone can be held accountable.

So many of us don’t know this feeling. We don’t know what it’s like to cry tears of joy, to believe that the future is brighter, to think that we as a nation can rise above our basest selves. We are, after all, a country of fragments; a people fragmented. We are a labyrinthine expanse so loosely bound as if against nature.

But this is how it feels when America does something right for all Americans. This is what we mean by one nation with liberty and justice for all.

Yes, we are a country of fragments. But while the pieces don’t always fit, once in a while we do come together.

I can get used to this. I hope we all get used to this.

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