Chauvin and American Chauvinism


To offset this post, I wish to enlist a famous quotation from the late Toni Morrison’s expository catalog. In “The Nobel Lecture in Literature,” Morrison writes: “We die. That make be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives” (203).

While this quotation speaks to death as life’s sole promise, I employ its message to highlight murder as fulfilling a similar role in America. Death is to life what murder is to America because just as death is indicative of life, murder, the murder of black people in particular, remains indicative of American status.

Murder remains the ultimate way to actualize American mythos at the expense of black livelihood. I make this statement on the heels of Chauvin’s sentencing to illustrate that though his sentencing appears to criticize the murder of a human being, murder is not the issue here, it is who is allowed to, or who is born to murder in this country, and who is born to be murdered.

Nevertheless, I suppose many rejoiced on Friday afternoon when George Floyd’s murderer Derek Floyd received twenty-two and a half years for his crime. The sentencing followed impact statements from the Floyd family and Chauvin’s mother, which illuminated the stark dichotomy that founded America and foments its underrated mission-a mission embodied its blood-soaked flag that presides over every court proceeding, verdict, and sentencing.

Chauvin’s sentencing also followed a brief but informative prelude by the judge. Undoubtedly, to appear impartial, the judge noted that though in acknowledgment of the pain that inundated the courtroom, his ruling reflecting the law, not emotion. In addition to being untrue, his words aligned with the embedded message in Derek Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty’s, statement. Pawlenty began her statement proclaiming that it was on November 25th of last year, not May 25th, that Derek and his family’s life changed forever. Her account declined to offer any superficial empathy or condolences to the Floyd Family. Instead, she proclaimed her son’s non-existent innocence despite the entire world witnessing Chauvin murder Floyd from multiple angles.

But, perhaps the most haunting words Pawlenty spoke was the proclamation that the “happiest day of her life “ was when she gave birth to Chauvin. This statement not only underscored Chauvin as born to kill but coldly proclaimed Floyd as born to be murdered.

Her statement reflects positively on giving birth to the man who would murder George Floyd and maintain his innocence, not because he is her son, but because he did what he was born to do. Derek Chauvin illustrates those trained to kill and those trained to eliminate the African-descended as a national birthright. So despite the prosecution’s claims that Chauvin defied his training, Chauvin’s mother’s statement, in juxtaposition to the presiding judge’s statements, illustrates Derek Chauvin as systemically and socially trained to eliminate the African-descended as a national birthright.

Thus, Chauvin’s conviction depicts the nation as cutting off a finger to save the hand, as severing the toe to save the knee— a sign that there will be more George Floyd’s while the Chauvin remains a national aberration.

Additionally, this statement underscores the contradiction in the judge’s ruling. This case, like every other, is about emotion; specifically, this case like every other, is about the emotion of this country.

The maternal-legal grooming of white murder is however not the most troublesome component of the Chauvin trial. This surface “victory” elucidates a new way to vindicate the murder of black people in America, which means that what appears a conspicuous sign that a things are “getting better” illustrates that the white settler has consummated his dream.

Chauvin does not embody white nationalist sacrifice, he represents weaponized white supremacy that constitutes its apex in seeming to constitute loss when it merely conceals a sealed legacy. The Chauvin trial illuminates a national effort to individualize a collective problem and label it “progress.” Moreover, Chauvin’s sentencing it is not a step toward absolving anti-blackness, it is a sign of the countless ways in which domestic terrorists reinvent themselves and how what they deem their “weakest link” helps them collectively stand a little taller.

There is no justice unless it is not only wrong to kill George Floyd, but Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Korryn Gaines, and the countless other black people who fill up the black narrative as tears fill up black eyes bludgeoned by a brutal American reality.

It hurts knowing that Floyd deserved better and that Chauvin deserved a consequence that simply does not exist on an earth poisoned by whiteness.

I’ll end this post as I began it, with a Toni Morrison quotation that I will illustrate with an example that elucidates Chauvin’s sentencing as a national shortcoming. Chauvin’s sentencing exposes and refines American chauvinism, and to paraphrase Toni Morrison, the subject of the dream is still the dreamer.

The dreamer, of course, no longer has to dream beneath a night sky that Ronald L. Sanford, a black man sentenced to 170 years in 1989, hasn’t seen in over twenty years. I enlist this example to underscore that a thirteen year old black child remains more accountable that a forty-five year old man professionally bound to the hollow phrase “protect and serve.”A thirteen-year-old child is to serve more time than anyone would for murdering him, and this boy who became a man in prison, will still be a prisoner when Chauvin is set free. Sanford, like Floyd, Tamir Rice, John Crawford III, Freddy Gray, Sandra Bland, Korryn Gaines, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, and countless others, elucidates those born to be physically and systemically murdered in a national chauvinism that will never truly regard Chauvin as a prisoner, even in his imprisonment.

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