On May 25, 2020, George Floyd woke up never realizing that it was his last day on earth. On this day, one year ago, George Floyd had hopes and dreams and plans and wishes, just like everyone else, only he did not realize that it was his last day to be alive. And on this day, just like everyone else, George Floyd was already thinking about what he might be doing next week or next month or next year, never realizing that this was his last day to be alive.
George Floyd did not he was destined to be the living/dying embodiment of what systemic racism means in America. He certainly did not know that his killer did not even know his name and was not planning to kill him when his day began, but at some point he decided that he would kill him.
And so George Floyd joined the ranks of random Black martyrs, sacrificed on the crimson stained altar of racism, white supremacy and systemic injustice. But on that morning, he had hopes and dreams and plans and wishes just like everyone else – except that everyone who is Black always has the unspoken Prayer for Black America somewhere in the recesses of their mind.
Please God, let me go through this day without having my patience or my self-respect tested by some aggressive store security guard or snarky cashier or pompous doorman which could lead to my reacting in a way that could get me killed.
Please God, let my son go out of the house today and come back alive. Please do not let him be killed because he has a toy gun, or a bag of Skittles or was playing the music too loud today or doing anything else that would give some white policeman or wannabe deputy a reason to kill him.
Please God, do not let any person, especially a white person, touch my hair, ask to touch my hair or ask me about my hair as if the hair of a Black woman was so otherworldly that it requires this high level of inquiry and investigation.
And while you are at it God please do not let someone mistake for the waitress or the maid or the salesperson or the secretary because in the minds of too many, there is no other role for a Black woman to play in these United States.
Please God, let me go through this day without being stopped by the police while driving with a faulty brake light or an air freshener on my rear view mirror or without my license – any of these things could be a reason for a white policeman to shoot me to death or beat me to death or just simply choke me to death.
Please God, let my son and daughter always remember The Talk that we had – never, never, never run from the police – never talk back to the police – never, never, never resist if you are searched or arrested – always, always remember that in these situations the police literally hold your life in their hands and they might get careless or they just might not care.
And finally God, thank you for the blessings of life and family and love and community that I have been able to enjoy, even in the most difficult of times. So please God, don’t let a white policeman kill me today – please let me live another day.
We can be sure that George Floyd offered up his version of The Prayer for Black America a year ago today.
And we can be sure that in these United States of America the prayers of Black America are not always answered.