Flowers, signs and balloons are left near a makeshift memorial to George Floyd near the spot where he died while in custody of the Minneapolis police, on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Flowers, signs and balloons are left near a makeshift memorial to George Floyd near the spot where he died while in custody of the Minneapolis police, on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP (Getty Images)

George Floyd is dead.

No amount of memorials, court cases, T-shirts with his face, Ad Council-sponsored commercials, candlelight vigils, social media hashtags, street activism, presidential camera op meetings, or high-minded speeches about the need for police reform changes that fact.

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I don’t like to use the word anniversary when it comes to George Floyd. The word makes this day feel less of an annual notation of his murder by the Minneapolis Police Department, but almost as though it’s a celebration of the triumphant symbol that is the idea of George Floyd. This notion of an anniversary makes George Floyd feels less of a flesh-and-blood human being and more like a cause celeb in which anyone and anything can be placed upon his memory.

I prefer the Swahili word “janga” much better. Janga means disaster or tragedy, and that feel appropriate. It feels right.

The George Floyd Janga.

I don’t know if that’s proper Swahili grammar, but that’s how I’m going to write it in English. Because the death of George Floyd is a janga, a disaster, a tragedy, on both a personal and societal level. Because George Floyd the human being deserved better.

George Floyd should be alive today, leading an ordinary life that over 300 million Americans do each and every day. Laughing. Loving. Work. Hustling. Being someone’s father. Being someone’s partner. Struggling with his flaws. Falling down. Getting back up. Hoping to get better each day.

And of course, breathing one of the estimated 672,768,000 breaths he should have taken before he died of natural causes and not from the knee of a police murderer.

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George Floyd deserved better.

George Floyd deserved better than to have his death tied to a police reform bill that will be full of toothless symbolism. A bill where Donald Trump’s personal negro, Republican Sen. Tim Scott, a key negotiator of the bill and a man who puts the milk in milquetoast, does his best to protect the police and America from confronting its systemic racism.

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George Floyd deserved better than to have people make money off his death and his family’s pain. He isn’t a commodity, either via physical good or intellectual ones either.

George Floyd deserved better than to have at least 229 other Black people killed by the police since his death last year. And according to the Mapping Police Violence database, that’s a conservative estimate based on self-reporting of race. A policing system so violent against Black people that we don’t even care to compile accurate numbers.

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George Floyd deserved better than to have his death overshadowed by the Louisiana police cover-up of their 2019 killing of motorist Ronald Greene. Two Black men, one in the North, the other in the South, desperate enough to use all of their most polite grammar skills with murderous police officers—“Please sir!”—in a society bounded and determined to either put a knee on their necks or to gas, tase and make crawl on their bellies until dead.

No, this George Floyd Janga isn’t an annual celebration. It isn’t a day to reflect. Or to have another useless conversation about race. Or to debate whether or not “defund the police” is good rhetorical strategy versus “reforming the police.” Or to…or to…or to…

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It is a catastrophe.

But the George Floyd Janga is life for Black people. Everyday life. It’s living in an American society that discounts the humanity of Black bodies and uses the police to enforce its inhumanity. If there’s not a police murder of a Black person happening today, it’s coming. And it could be you.

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That psychological mindfuck is why Black people walk around this society with a sense of trepidation, a sense of irrational doom, to the point where giving that the absurd “talk” to their Black children about how to not get themselves killed by the professional police who want to kill them is seen as an effective shield.

“Just do what they say so you won’t be the next George Floyd or…”

Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Daunte Wright, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville, Eric Garner, Michelle Cusseaux, Akai Gurley, Gabriella Nevarez, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, or…or…or…

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What did they say wrong?

Where are their anniversaries?

Who mourns for them?

The George Floyd Janga is a feature not a flaw in the system. Built into the design. And every discussion about how the memory of George Floyd’s murder is going to change something is a lie.

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Things are not going to change.

Things are not going to change.

Things are not going to change.

There will be more George Floyds.

There will be more George Floyds.

There will be more George Floyds.

There are more George Floyds.

There are more George Floyds.

There are more George Floyds.

George Floyd is dead.

Nothing changes that today.

.

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