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Y’all-itics: From anxiety to relief, Black leaders react in real-time to conviction in George Floyd's death

The conversation from a panel of Black leaders in North Texas was real, raw and recorded live as the verdict in the Derek Chauvin came down on Tuesday afternoon.
Credit: WFAA

DALLAS — Updated throughout Wednesday with more details on the conversation.

Tears welled in their eyes as the judge read the guilty verdict for each of the three charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

The emotional response from three community leaders in North Texas was real, raw and recorded live for an emergency episode of Y’all-itics that dropped on Tuesday evening.

“As a Black man in America, I know that the way the systems are set up and designed, we don’t see verdicts like this often. We can’t forget that in America that police kill three civilians a day. George Floyd was just the one that we’re talking about now. He was the one that got justice but for the countless others, this doesn’t happen,” said Carl Sherman, Jr., former school board president in DeSoto ISD.

Sherman, Jr., David James, III, an assistant principal, and Cydney Walker, host of the Coffee and Politics 101 podcast joined the Jasons to watch the verdict come down on Tuesday afternoon. 

Listen to the full conversation in this emergency podcast below and subscribe to Y'all-itics wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher Amazon Music

(Story continues below.)

While Sherman and Walker were emotional wiping away tears at the verdict, James said he was jubilant at the jury’s decision.

A podcast that began with anxiety and nervousness ended with hope and jubilation.

The challenge moving forward, the panelists said, is to make this verdict more than an outlier. How do they turn it into change? And does anything change?

Here are some excerpts from that conversation: 

Does anything change immediately after the verdict?

Carl Sherman Jr.: “No. The hope is there. But that doesn’t absolve us from the work that has to be done. As we speak, my son is getting his haircut right now. He didn’t want to get his haircut. It’s been a Sherman thing that we could have braids up until a certain age… We realized that the way America looks at us, no matter how light skinned I am and no matter that my son is biracial, he’s still black in America. And being black in America comes with the same stigma, the same issues that we have to overcome.”

Any fear the verdict may give a false sense of security that the justice system works, and no more improvement is needed?

Cydney Walker: “It almost feels like we got thrown a bone. And as far as the black community, it gives us a reprieve from all the trauma that we experienced, and we witnessed and have to relive every time one of these stories is in the news. But I can see resting on laurels, saying everything is fine, he was found guilty, so you all should be happy. I see that being the sentiment out there.”

What needs to happen from here based on what happened in the courtroom?

David James III: “I want to take a look at the grey area. I want to look at the area in between absolutely guilty on all three charges and officers who are granted some type of qualified immunity because they were following protocol or because they didn’t technically break any laws. And there has to be a period of reflection… How do we reflect on this moment and moments similar to this and determine how we can improve or change or ensure that the system that has allowed Derek Chauvin to be this extremist is less likely to allow for somebody to descend from humanity and go off the cuff and take matters into their own hands and make decisions that are not only life altering for George Floyd but now for himself and his family as well.”

Is the start of momentum?

Cydney Walker: “It shows even more why we need to have more trained individuals that can handle those situations to talk someone off that ledge, to get someone to calm down in that moment and have that clarity so they can deal with what is going on and comply with police officers and respond appropriately.”

Carl Sherman Jr.: “There are more things that we’ve criminalized in our society that people of color are susceptible to that affects them every day that this verdict does not change. This verdict does not change that we’ve seen the most sweeping voter acts going in place to suppress the vote. This does not change redistricting and practices that are in place to suppress certain votes. This doesn’t change the economic realities in our communities just because of this verdict. Yes, there’s hope. But this hope has to be matched with an energy to fight oppression on all fronts.”

David James III: “What are we doing to ensure we’re not implementing our own biases and allowing them to get in the way of how we police and why we police and why we do the things we do. And it’s gone on since slavery ended.”

How will you sleep tonight after the verdict?

Cydney Walker: “I will sleep with motivation in my heart… It motivates me to make sure that the people I know, my followers, understand how the system works, understand the checks and balances, the rules. Because we see the goal posts get moved all the time. And to really understand the game, then you can start predicting where that goal post is going to get moved to and start breaking this down.”

Carl Sherman Jr.: “I’ll sleep with one eye open. There’s no rest. There’s still the prospect of being the father of two young children… and what world will I be releasing them into? It’s ongoing work to make sure that the world as we know it today has a positive change on it… so one eye open and I’ll have some Visine for the other eye once I wake.” 

David James III: “I will sleep well when I choose to sleep. But there’s so much more digging that I want to do. There’s so many questions that I want to ask.  And so many responses that I want to hear. And quite honestly, it’s because I want to understand other perspectives. I want to understand how people feel.”