I admit that I always had an issue with the way that the media treated Gianna Floyd. Nevertheless, I, along with millions of others, watched the interview where a six-year-old Floyd said she missed her father and wanted to be a doctor to help people. Upon looking at Gianna’s face, one could see George Floyd in a way that we never would again—alive with his entire life ahead of him.
As heartwarming as it was to see the young, beautiful Gianna Floyd speak about her father, it was (and still is) heartbreaking to think about the truth that awaits her. It is also painful to think of how the pure innocence in her face will likely dissipate irretrievably upon encountering the inevitable.
In the meantime, Gianna becomes a hyper site for pseudo-white empathy. Before entering into her formative years, Gianna Floyd has a full scholarship, shares in a company, a new bedroom, as a canvass for the African-adjacent to separate themselves from Floyd’s conspicuous murderer, Derek Chauvin.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi performs in this same pseudo empathy with the petting gesture she inflicted onto Gianna Floyd on the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Pelosi’s patronizing gesture bears an unsettling similarity to the knee on Floyd’s neck.
Pelosi’s petting gesture appears antithetical to the fatal contact that took Floyd’s life on the surface. However, not only did Pelosi’s motion reflect a well-documented cardinal sin against black women, it delineated that the optic and “assembly like” ceremony was not enough. This gesture illustrated Pelosi’s desire to appear warm and caring as more important than the overt subject of the afternoon: George Floyd.
I suppose what makes this gesture so cringeworthy was that it, like the knee on Floyd’s neck, underscores that Gianna Floyd’s humanity, like her father and all black people, remain that which much be “proven” by offensive gestures that illuminate a global alignment between black people and animals. Chauvin dug his knee into Floyd’s neck with no regard for black humanity; his arrogance and global entitlement to actualize whiteness as an ideology wherever and however he saw fit took precedence over Floyd’s life. Pelosi’s actions convey an identical intention.
I articulate the similarity between Floyd and Pelosi to illuminate that death is the last stop on a black person’s lifelong encounter with blatant and legal disregard to his or her humanity. One cannot condemn or preclude the systemic murder of black people without regard to the small deaths that precede it.
Additionally, the media employs Gianna Floyd’s innocence as their own. Just as Harriet Beecher Stowe used Eva, a young, dying white girl to” humanize” the title character of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the media casts a young, black girl with a slain father as a cruel way to mitigate anti-black racism. Thus, Pelosi’s gesture appears a response to innocence to those whose sheer disregard for black emotion (Gianna didn’t seem to appreciate Pelosi’s touch), supersedes white desire to showcase a feeling they don’t feel.
See, these ceremonies are not George Floyd’s legacy. Gianna Floyd, and his two adult children who are less useful to the media and government’s agenda to appear to do what they have no intention to even attempt, comprise Floyd’s legacy. In the chokehold of a racist media, this legacy illustrates how “hue” continues to detach the black race from humanity and all that is idiosyncratic to its acknowledgment.