Eight and a Half Minutes

Eight and a half minutes.

In this little corner of rural NH, I feel far away from protests and violence. Cities increasingly closer to me tremor and spiral and the national conversation pivots and shifts. However, my mind remains fixed through breakfast, and lunch, and dinner on a street in Minneapolis where I have never been.

We teach our daughters to trust the police. We talk to them about the police serving and protecting. I don’t know how to tell them a black man was murdered by police officers who had no concern of being filmed as bystanders begged them to stop. Yesterday, my Instagram account was open and the girls saw all the black boxes. I told them about solidarity and that racism was when people are mean to someone because their skin is a different color. Makayla, who’s six, seemed (for the first time) to grasp that people have different skin tones. “Ohhhh,” she said. “One of my best friends has brown skin!” It’s a little boy she knows, and I wonder what his parents will have to teach him about the police as he grows older. Will I be saying things like, “Be friendly, say thank you, give them space” while they’re saying, “Move slowly. Make sure they can see your hands. Ask if it’s okay before you reach for your I.D.”

Eight and a half minutes.

I remember being confused in 2016 about the backlash against Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest against police brutality. Was there a better way to use a position of power, wealth and visibility than to advocate for people who are oppressed and have none of those vehicles of change at their disposal? Don’t misunderstand me; I’m proud of my heritage, and the members of my family who have served to protect the freedoms I enjoy. At the same time, I can’t imagine a reaction by the black community to the systemic racism they have endured historically and presently that is not an underreaction.

I’m scared of crowds right now with the pandemic, but in a small way, two small voices among millions, Katy and I wanted to protest alongside the black community. So, today we lit a candle and knelt for eight and a half minutes for George Floyd because—and it makes me cry that this needs to be said—black lives matter.

 Joel and Katy

#BlackLivesMatter #BLM #EightAndAHalfMinutes

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