Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long possessed that he is set free – he has set himself free – for higher dreams, for greater privileges.”

― James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

Broken: having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.

(of a person) having given up all hope; despairing. 

The Derek Chauvin Trial for George Floyd’s death has begun, and the actual defendant on trial is the United States of America. America currently is broken. The shattered pieces scatter to the point of societal, social, and cultural exasperation. A political and economic system that was intentioned to become a repairer and an answer to British oppression, nearly two and a half centuries later, lies broken.  

The middle passage of the triangular trade brought to America a different reality for those on the boats’ undersides and their ancestors. Broken in ineptitude is the system that boasted itself throughout the world as being a beacon of freedom. Attempts to right the proverbial ship were foiled time and time again by a broken society of broken trying to fix a broken system out of their brokenness.

“I Know What You Did Last Summer” was the title of a 1997 movie horror classic.” Similarly, Last Summer America looked at the live brutal lynching of George Floyd before its very eyes. In a country where political leaders can commit crimes in plain sight, lie, and never be held to account or even charged, the broken and obscene questions of this present moment is, “Will Derek Chauvin get off,” why is there no mandate to fixing a broken justice system?

“African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences.”

In contrast, in a broken nation in which blacks are more likely to end up imprisoned than whites, are we truly ready for the hair-raising prospect of Chauvin being declared innocent? If prosecutors cannot prove this blatantly obvious case, there may never be a convictable trial involving a white police officer killing a black person. Injustice fractures run deep into the chasm parted thought of the marginalized. Can these fissures be fixed?

Reluctantly and repeatedly broken are Hearts within Melanated communities. The Marginalized tears never run cold in a nation of broken dreams. Broken also are the many promises to make the situation better.
May the freedom imagined in the hearts and minds of the slave, sharecropper, and civil rights worker alike be the fabric that mends a broken nation at its most critical hour. One murder conviction will not heal a nation’s wounds, but it will go a long way toward stopping the bleeding.

Kevin Robinson Executive Director of Accord1

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