When Darnella Frazier saw a police officer pinning George Floyd under his knee she knew it wasn’t right. She pulled out her phone and started videoed the event. She later posted the video to Facebook which was seen millions of times by people around the world. That video forced many of us to see that from which we have too often turned away – the reality of racism in our country. The video became, as network legal analyst Sunny Hostin said, the “the star witness of the prosecution.”
Darnella Frazier bore witness. I heard part of her testimony in Derek Chauvin’s trial. She was distraught, traumatized by what she saw. She said, “It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.” And then, referring to Mr. Chauvin, Ms. Frazier said, “But it’s like, it’s not what I should have done, it’s what he should have done.”
We don’t always know what to do when we see racism at work right in front of us. We often turn away or sit paralyzed, like in a bad dream. On May 2 my church, First UMC of Arlington Heights, will host an online bystander training to learn how to identify hate incidents as they happen and take action safely and effectively. You can attend in person or online. Go to fumcah.com/events for more information and to sign up.
There’s a cost to bearing witness to injustice, to speaking the truth about evil when we see it. And there’s a cost to staying silent. If I’m going to lay awake at night because of what I witnessed, I’d like to know, like Ms. Frazier does, that I did something to make a difference.