The Death of George Floyd Reignited a Movement. What Happens Now?
AUDRA D. S. BURCH, AMY HARMON, SABRINA TAVERNISE, EMILY BADGER
George Floyd had been dead only hours before the movement began. Driven by a terrifying video and word-of-mouth, people flooded the South Minneapolis intersection where he died shortly after Memorial Day, demanding an end to police violence against Black Americans.
The moment of collective grief and anger swiftly gave way to a yearlong, nationwide deliberation on what it means to be Black in America.
First came protests, in large cities and small towns across the nation, becoming the largest mass protest movement in U.S. history. Then, over the next several months, nearly 170 Confederate symbols were renamed or removed from public spaces. The Black Lives Matter slogan was claimed by a nation grappling with Mr. Floyd’s death.
首先发生的，是全国各大城市和小型城镇的抗议，这演变成了美国历史上规模最大的群众抗议运动。而在那之后的几个月，近170个南方邦联(Confederate)标志被重新命名或从公共场所移除。“黑人的命也是命”（Black Lives Matter，简称BLM）口号得到了这个难以接受弗洛伊德之死的国度的认同。
Over the next 11 months, calls for racial justice would touch seemingly every aspect of American life on a scale that historians say had not happened since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who knelt on Mr. Floyd, was convicted of two counts of murder as well as manslaughter. The verdict brought some solace to activists for racial justice who had been riveted to the courtroom drama for the past several weeks.
But for many Black Americans, real change feels elusive, particularly given how relentlessly the killing of Black men by the police has continued, most recently the shooting death of Daunte Wright just more than a week ago.
There are also signs of backlash: Legislation that would reduce voting access, protect the police and effectively criminalize public protests has sprung up in Republican-controlled state legislatures.
Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, said to call what had transpired over the past year a racial reckoning was not right.
芝加哥三一联合教会(Trinity United Church of Christ)的牧师奥蒂斯·莫斯三世(Otis Moss III)说，把过去一年发生的事情称为种族清算是不对的。
“Reckoning suggests that we are truly struggling with how to reimagine everything from criminal justice to food deserts to health disparities — we are not doing that,” he said. Tuesday’s guilty verdict, he said, “is addressing a symptom, but we have not yet dealt with the disease.”
Moments before the verdict was announced, Derrick Johnson, president of the N.A.A.C.P., called Mr. Floyd’s death “a Selma, Ala., moment for America.”
What happened in Selma in 1965 “with the world watching demonstrated the need for the passage of the 1965 Voting Right Act,” he said. “What we witnessed last year with the killing of George Floyd should be the catalyst for broad reform in policing in this nation.”
他说，“全世界都在关注”1965年塞尔玛发生的事，“这表明了通过《1965投票权利法》(1965 Voting Right Act)的重要性。我们去年所目睹的乔治·弗洛伊德谋杀事件，应该成为这个国家警务系统广泛改革的催化剂。”
The entire arc of the Floyd case — from his death and the protests through the trial and conviction of Mr. Chauvin — played out against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which further focused attention on the nation’s racial inequities: People of color were among those hardest hit by the virus and by the economic dislocation that followed.
And for many, Mr. Floyd’s death carried the weight of other episodes of police violence over the past decade, a list that includes the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor.
对许多人来说，弗洛伊德之死与过去十年间发生的其他警察暴力事件一样沉重，那些死者包括特雷沃恩·马丁(Trayvon Martin)、迈克尔·布朗(Michael Brown)、桑德拉·布兰德(Sandra Bland)和布里昂娜·泰勒(Breonna Taylor)。
In the months after Mr. Floyd’s death, some change has been concrete. Scores of policing reform laws were introduced at the state level. Corporations pledged billions to racial equity causes, and the N.F.L. apologized for its failure to support protests against police violence by its Black players.
Even the backlash was different. Racist statements by dozens of public officials, from mayors to fire chiefs, related to Mr. Floyd’s death — perhaps tolerated before — cost them their jobs and sent others to antiracism training.
And, at least at first, American views on a range of questions related to racial inequality and policing shifted to a degree rarely seen in opinion polling. Americans, and white Americans in particular, became much more likely than in recent years to support the Black Lives Matter movement, to say that racial discrimination is a big problem, and to say that excessive police force disproportionately harms African-Americans.
Mr. Floyd’s death, most Americans agreed early last summer, was part of a broader pattern — not an isolated episode. A New York Times poll of registered voters in June showed that more than one in 10 had attended protests. And at the time, even Republican politicians in Washington were voicing support for police reform.
But the shift proved fleeting for Republicans — both elected leaders and voters. As some protests turned destructive and as President Donald J. Trump’s re-election campaign began using those scenes in political ads, polls showed white Republicans retreating in their views that discrimination is a problem. Increasingly in the campaign, voters were given a choice: They could stand for racial equity or with law and order. Republican officials once vocal about Mr. Floyd fell silent.
但事实证明，这种转变对共和党人（无论是民选领导人还是选民）来说，都是短暂的。随着一些抗议变得具有破坏性，以及唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)总统开始在连任竞选的政治广告中使用这些场景，民调显示，白人共和党人在歧视是个问题的观点上出现倒退。在其竞选活动中，选民越来越多地面临这样一个选择：他们可以支持种族平等，或是支持法律与秩序。曾为弗洛伊德发声的共和党官员陷入了沉默。
“If you were on the Republican side, which is really the Trump side of this equation, then the message became, ‘No, we can’t acknowledge that that was appalling because we will lose ground,’” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “‘Our worldview is it’s us against them. And those protesters are going to be part of the them.’”
“如果你站在共和党一边，实际上就是站在特朗普的一边，那意思就变成了，‘不，我们不能承认此事骇人听闻，那会对我们的处境不利，’”蒙茅斯大学民调研究所(Monmouth University Polling Institute)所长帕特里克·默里(Patrick Murray)说。“‘我们的世界观是我们与他们势不两立。那些抗议者将成为他们的一部分。’”
Mr. Floyd’s death did, however, drive some changes, at least for now, among non-Republican white Americans in their awareness of racial inequality and support for reforms. And it helped cement the movement of college-educated suburban voters, already dismayed by what they saw as Mr. Trump’s race-baiting, toward the Democratic Party.
“The year 2020 is going to go down in our history books as a very significant, very catalytic time,” said David Bailey, whose Richmond, Va.-based nonprofit, Arrabon, helps churches around the country do racial reconciliation work. “People’s attitudes have changed at some level. We don’t know fully all of what that means. But I am hopeful I am seeing something different.”
But even among Democratic leaders, including local mayors and recently President Biden, dismay over police violence has often been paired with warnings that protesters avoid violence, too. That association — linking Black political anger and violence — is deeply rooted in America and has not been broken in the past year, said Davin Phoenix, a political scientist at the University of California, Irvine.
但包括地方市长以及最近的拜登总统在内，即便是民主党领导人也常常在对警察暴力表示失望的同时，也警告抗议者避免使用暴力。加州大学欧文分校(University of California, Irvine)的政治学家达文·菲尼克斯(Davin Phoenix)表示，将黑人的政治愤怒与暴力联系起来的观点在美国根深蒂固，过去一年也没有打破这个常规。
“Before Black people even get a chance to process their feelings of trauma and grief, they’re being told by people they elected to the White House — that they put into power — ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that,’” Mr. Phoenix said. “I would love if more politicians, at least those that claim to be allied, turn to the police and say, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that.’”
The protests that followed Mr. Floyd’s death became part of the increasingly acrimonious American conversation over politics. Most were peaceful, but there was looting and property damage in some cities, and those images circulated frequently on television and social media.
Republicans cited the protests as an example of the left losing control. Blue Lives Matter flags hung from houses last fall. When support for Mr. Trump boiled over into violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, conservatives expressed anger at what they said was a double standard for how the two movements had been treated.
共和党人将抗议活动视为左派失控的一个例子。去年秋天，许多房屋外挂起了“警察的命也是命”(Blue Lives Matter)的旗帜。1月6日，当对特朗普的支持演变成美国国会大厦的暴力事件后，保守派对他们所谓的评判这两场运动的双重标准感到愤怒。
Mr. Biden took office in January vowing to make racial equity central to every element of his agenda — to how Covid vaccines are distributed, where federal infrastructure is built, how climate policies are crafted. He quickly made changes any Democratic administration most likely would have made, restoring police consent decrees and fair housing rules.
But, in a sign of the unique moment in which Mr. Biden was elected — and his debt to Black voters in elevating him — his administration has also made more novel moves, like declaring racism a serious threat to public health and singling out Black unemployment as a gauge of the economy’s health.
What opinion polling has not captured well is whether white liberals will change the behaviors — like opting for segregated schools and neighborhoods — that reinforce racial inequality. Even as the outcry over Mr. Floyd’s death has raised awareness of it, other trends tied to the pandemic have only exacerbated that inequality. That has been true not just as Black families and workers have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic, but also as white students have fared better amid remote education and as white homeowners have gained wealth in a frenzied housing market.
In a national sample of white Americans earlier this year, Jennifer Chudy, a political scientist at Wellesley College, found that even the most racially sympathetic were more likely to endorse limited, private actions. These included educating oneself about racism or listening to people of color, rather than, for example, choosing to live in a racially diverse community or bringing racial issues to the attention of elected officials and policymakers.
韦尔斯利学院(Wellesley College)的政治学家珍妮弗·楚迪(Jennifer Chudy)在今年早些时候对美国白人进行的一次全国性抽样调查中发现，即使是最具种族同情心的人，也更有可能支持有限的私人行为——包括教育自己了解种族主义，或是倾听有色人种的呼声——而不是选择生活在一个种族多元化的社区，或将提请给民选官员和政策制定者注意种族问题。
Still, historians say it is hard to overstate the galvanizing effect of Mr. Floyd’s death on public discourse, not just on policing but also on how racism is embedded in the policies of public and private institutions.
Some Black business leaders have spoken in unusually personal terms about their own experiences with racism, with some calling out the business world for doing far too little over the years — “Corporate America has failed Black America,” said Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation and a board member at PepsiCo, Ralph Lauren and Square — and dozens of brands made commitments to diversify their work forces.
一些黑人商界领袖用不同寻常的个人化方式讲述了自己遭受种族歧视的经历，一些人指责商界多年来做得太少——“美国企业界让美国黑人失望，”福特基金会(Ford Foundation)主席、百事可乐(PepsiCo)、拉夫·劳伦(Ralph Lauren)和Square的董事会成员达伦·沃克(Darren Walker)表示——数十个品牌承诺让员工队伍多元化。
Public outcries over racism in the United States erupted across the world, spurring protest in the streets of Berlin, London, Paris and Vancouver, British Columbia, and in capitals in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. White Americans unfamiliar with the concept of structural racism drove books on the topic to the top of best-seller lists.
The protests against police violence over the last year were more racially diverse than those that followed other police shootings of Black men, women and children over the past decade, said Robin D.G. Kelley, a historian of protest movements at the University of California, Los Angeles. And unlike in the past, they propelled defunding the police — the most far-reaching demand to transform policing — to the mainstream.
加州大学洛杉矶分校(University of California, Los Angeles)研究抗议运动的历史学家罗宾·D·G·凯利(Robin D.G. Kelley)说，与过去十年其他警察枪击黑人男女和儿童事件后发生的抗议活动相比，去年反对警察暴力的抗议活动在种族上更具多样性。与过去不同的是，它们使得撤销警察经费的要求成为主流——这是改革警务工作的最深远要求。
“We had more organizing, more people in the streets, more people saying, ‘It’s not enough to fix the system, it needs to be taken down and replaced,’” Dr. Kelley said.
Organizers worked to turn the energy of the protests into real political power by pushing vast voter registrations. By the fall, racial justice was a campaign issue too. Mostly Democratic candidates addressed racial disparities in their campaigns, including calling for police reform, the dismantling of cash bail systems and the creation of civilian review boards.
“We will forever look back at this moment in American history. George Floyd’s death created a new energy around making changes, though it’s not clear how lasting they will be,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change. “His death pushed racial justice to the forefront and brought a multiracial response like never before, but we must remember this is about making Chauvin accountable and the work of making systemic changes.”
One clear policy outcome has been changes to policing. More than 30 states have passed new police oversight and reform laws since Mr. Floyd’s killing, giving states more authority and putting long-powerful police unions on the defensive. The changes include restricting the use of force, overhauling disciplinary systems, installing more civilian oversight and requiring transparency around misconduct cases.
Still, systems of policing are complex and entrenched, and it remains to be seen how much the legislation will change the way things work on the ground.
“America is a deeply racist place and it’s also progressively getting better — both are true,” said Mr. Bailey, the racial reconciliation worker in Richmond. “You are talking about a 350-year problem that’s only a little more than 50 years toward correction.”