Letter: His name was George Floyd, and his spirit had value


He wasn’t just another black man. His name was George. His friends called him “Big Floyd.” He moved to Minneapolis, Minn. to find work, and loved hugs from the regulars at the club where he was a security guard. He had a 6-year-old daughter. What of his dreams? What of his loves? What was the content of his character? In the Bible, “spirit” and “breath” are the same word. On the street, his spirit was taken from him.

What is that worth?

Lois was homeless, scored a night in a motel, crossed a busy street to buy more beer, had too much in her system, it was raining and dark, the driver didn’t see her until too late, and she died. She once had a career as a probation counselor, had a bachelor’s degree, gave birth to two wonderful children, was so smart she could manipulate people with multiple advanced degrees, adored her widowed father. She wasn’t just another homeless person.

Oscar was Salvadoran, “nearly always working,” and sold his motorcycle to try to bring his family to a better life. His daughter, Valeria, 2, was a happy child, loved to dance and to play with stuffed toys. They traveled 1,000 miles seeking a dream of future for their daughter. They had only one more river to cross. He carried her, but lost his footing and they were swept away, drowning in the Rio Grande. You probably saw their picture, lying face down, their spirit taken from them. They weren’t just another immigrant family.

How many seniors have died of COVID-19 in Washington state? One was named Werner. Her served in World War II. He sold vacuums door to door. He loved classical music. He wasn’t just another old person, as his breath, his spirit, was taken from him. What was his life worth? He shouldn’t have gone this way.

These are not equivalent experiences, but life is, for lots of people, too cheap here. It makes sense, though, to focus on race. Black lives matter.

If we can bring justice and fairness and valued lives to race relations, if we can make life immeasurably valuable there, we will make progress in other areas as well. Start by saying his name, and claiming as valuable the spirit that was taken from him. He wasn’t just another black man. His name was George Floyd.

Tom Walker


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