Let 2021 be the year of sweeping redress

CHRIS MacLEAN  –  Apr 20, 2020

With the verdict of "guilty" on all three counts against him, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's bail was revoked awaiting sentencing, expected in the next 8 weeks. The charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter resulted from the deadly-force arrest of George Floyd on 25 May 2020.

The video of George Floyd's agonizing murder while prone on his stomach, hands cuffed behind his back, police kneeling on his back, and Officer Chauvin's knee digging into the side of his neck for almost 9 minutes, shocked people around the world, and brought the white populations face to face with the undeniable systemic racism that pervades the globe, including the once sacrosanct institutions of authority.

2020 was a year of seeing clearly, in many cases for the first time, and with this verdict comes real optimism that change can happen, and must continue to happen, in all areas of our lives. No nation is exempt from unacceptable behaviour, some just hide it better, like Canada. There are many instances just as atrocious in Canada, but the cameras may not have been rolling, or others closed ranks and protected their own, even knowing it was wrong (or worse, believing it was right).

The George Floyd case against former police officer Chauvin had all the evidence to convict, yet few viewers had complete faith that justice would be done. Even when high level police leadership testified that an officer's responsibility is to the safety of the person in custody, most viewers held a sinking dread that somehow, someone on the jury would cave to old-world prejudicial thinking.

Speaking as a little sister to big brother USA, this landmark decision should be seen as the first day of the rest of our lives in the U.S., in Canada, and the millions of people whose voices rose to echo the pain of Floyd's family and to demand the justice that is so often shattered by ignoring reality. We now have the opportunity to keep that ball rolling and make sure the culture of protecting bad actors is wiped out by holding all those who perpetrate crimes to account, and also to no less extent, those who try to protect them. Especially those who vow to protect us.

No amount of head-in-the-sand thinking will change the fact that the world is more connected than ever. Travel is easier, distances become shorter, communication is basically free. With all this, the proverbial melting pot is unavoidable, just ask anyone who has had a geographic DND test done. It will be a rare person who doesn't have genes from somewhere else in the world mixed in their genetic makeup.

And that's a good thing. A very good thing, after all, purebreds are typically known for being "high-strung", which is never a good thing. Unless indoctrinated by others, children do not understand race or religion, they do not fear different skin colours, hair colours or eye colours. They do not recognize stereotypical gender behaviour. Everything that is bad in the world is taught – whether it is through lack of love, attention or two-way communication, or a reaction to injustice, or teaching intolerance and fear.

An Ottawa police officer was recently caught on video saying the "white man's day is done." There was an immediate uproar, but it is actually a very true statement, and it can't happen quickly enough for me. Once taboo, bi-racial marriages are becoming more and more common. Our neighbourhoods are becoming more diverse. Our children's and grandchildren's friends are of all nationalities, and this builds understanding and blurs the segregation that not so long ago divided our societies. Every generation becomes more tolerant of change, and brings us closer to a more understanding and global society.

Let 2021 be the year that society opens its eyes and changes the way we react towards those who perpetuate or ignore injustices, including insidious micro-aggressions.

Let this be the year that strong and clear policy makes all forms of sexual intimidation and assault completely unacceptable.

Let 2021 be the year for being held accountable for all inappropriate actions, no matter what rank or station in life.

Let this year go down in the history books as the year that humans became a better and more tolerant people.

Let this year be a huge turning point in our efforts to protect and restore the natural planet.

It can be done, all of it, if we push hard enough. It's up to you and I to make sure it happens in our daily lives, and to make sure our leaders know how serious we are – on a community, regional, provincial, national and global scale.

Politicians, and community leaders, get on board and spearhead the right changes or we'll find someone who will. We know it doesn't need to take years, it just takes some guts and resolve.

Let 2021 be the year of overwhelming redress and accountability.