Continuing the conversation: How George Floyd changed us

People march in Minneapolis
People march during an inaugural remembrance demonstration for George Floyd on Sunday in downtown Minneapolis. The event was held ahead of the one-year anniversary of Floyd's murder.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

George Floyd’s murder one year ago sparked days of local unrest and global protests over the treatment of Black people by police. 

In the year since then, local and national officials have debated police reform. And the video of a white police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes has led to renewed discussions about how to address inequality across almost every aspect of American life — from criminal justice systems to schools, housing and workplaces. 

Host Angela Davis reflected on how George Floyd changed us in a national broadcast that included interviews with Floyd’s aunt and community healers. 

On Tuesday, Angela continued to explore the question with listeners, a psychologist and a reporter who covered the story. 

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  • BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, known as Dr. B., is a clinical psychologist who works with children, adolescents and adults. She is president and founder of Brakins Consulting & Psychological Services in Plymouth and executive director of African American Child Wellness Institute, Inc., in north Minneapolis. 

  • Nina Moini is a reporter with MPR News and part of the team that covered George Floyd’s murder, the protests and the trial of Derek Chauvin. 

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Angela Davis podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or RSS.

From the audience: What makes change possible

Following the killing of George Floyd we saw communities, organizations and individuals demanding change. We’re asking our audience to share: What changes have you seen and what more do you think needs to be done?

Here are what a few people have said about their experience. Share your thoughts.

The following messages have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

“Change is made possible through knowledge, accountability and shifts in social norms. I believe seeing the Floyd murder opened many American’s eyes to police issues that have been ignored and unseen by many people unaffected by it for decades.

Accountability has been seen with the officer’s conviction and I’m sure that will change police culture in some way. As far as shifting social norms, I believe many people are learning about and caring about racism in a way people never have in this country before and that perspective shift makes me very hopeful that change is indeed possible and ultimately inevitable. Hopefully when we know better we really actually do better.” — Lauren, Minnetonka

“Yes, I have observed some change when it comes to equity. But from my vantage (as I choke back emotion) I see much that needs — must — be done. I am delighted by work I see being done by many organizations to lean into this moment — especially those that are stepping up to care for communities experiencing trauma.

I am a volunteer interfaith chaplain, and I am humbled to see so many organizations alongside me as I serve whose sole purpose is to heal. We need it. But there remains that cavernous divide — the worldview battle which is devouring relationship — if we do not wholly commit to healing together now, I fear we will heal separately in our own ways, not united, not hearing each other, not finding true community. What we need above all is to learn to talk, value each other, and be ok with difference of all kinds — race, religion, and political opinion.” — Kim, Marcel

“What steps have been taken in this last year have been essential. But not enough. I fear we are nearing a point that people will begin to use their privilege to ignore again.

Some modest and vital changes have been made within police, elected officials. The most hopeful changes I’ve seen is an opening in dialogue about race, white supremacy, inequity, equity, privilege and white fragility.

In many industries, in many spaces, some space has been opened to discuss these things. Some self-education has been undertaken regarding these things. Aspiring allies are finding ways to identify others, to support one another in doing the work. …

In early or mid-fall 2020, someone shared with me a reputable news source’s data (NYT’s/LAT’s, etc). It showed that about or less than (34 percent) of people had read books to educate themselves about the issues, etc. I didn’t know that there was an industry called DEI before George Floyd’s murder. Now most of society are aware that DEI exists, that literature is available to self-educate ourselves. Discovering DEI and DEI experts provides substantially better ability to speak about these difficult, emotionally charged and confronting topics.” — Chelley, Twin Cities

“Each individual needs a heart transplant. Change takes place when one person in a group experiences a heart renovation, has their eyes opened to a point where they are compelled to share with their group, thus possibly starting another heart renovation. This needs to happen millions of times.” — Dan, Two Harbors