Photo of protesters
March 7, 2021 - Minneapolis -- Thousands march the day before the start of jury selection in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. The former Minneapolis Police officer is charged with the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020. Photo by Chad Davis / Flickr

I woke up on Wednesday night just as President Biden started his talk with the country and decided I would listen. I have never been so underwhelmed with a political speech. As far as Black people’s lives are concerned, what did he really commit to? It’s sickening how he continuously uses George Floyd’s name like some common buzzword. He keeps bringing up his meeting George’s daughter, attempting to pull on our heart strings, gain favor, and hold us at bay while the murders of Black people continue to pile up day by day. Ask yourself how many were killed this past week? It happens so often you’re not sure, are you.

Some of you will point out that the Department of Justice will be looking into some things in some cities. But it seems to be too little, too late to stop the carnage. This conviction of Derek Chauvin actually changes nothing. Let’s see how many are brought to trial and sentenced from this point on. “The proof is in the pudding,” my mama said. I need to see at least 50% of the charged perpetrators handed stiff sentences to make a believer out of me that something has really changed. And a 50% conviction rate for a prosecutor would get them fired pretty d*** quick. 

How does it look to African Americans that Biden issues executive orders to protect transgender people and Asian-American people, yet after 400 years of brutal suffering we still can’t get an anti-lynching act? And these killings are no more than modern-day lynchings. Over 200 bills have been introduced and failed. Where’s our executive order, Mr. President? This guy reminds me of an old-school used-car salesman who sells you blue sky. I ain’t buying

Here we are in the same week that a verdict came through for George Floyd’s murderer, and at least one Black person has been killed by police every single day since, all around the country. Biden had no problem giving his support to the Armenian people by calling Turkey’s past moves against them “genocide,” but he still hasn’t looked in the mirror at our own country’s actions towards Black people. What do you call a Black person being murdered daily by police other than a human rights violation? We don’t even have the right to go to the 7-11 and come home safely.

Some people thought he did such a great job addressing Congress, and he did do a good job for lots of people whose concerns don’t fully align with mine. My concern is that me or my kids could be killed for an improper lane change. He sold happy times and “things are going to get better.” But he didn’t lay out anything concrete to affect the change I need to see. Where’s our executive order? Yes, he called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death. But that’s a distraction that shifts responsibility away from him. 

For the majority of the white people I know — decent folks — Black people getting killed isn’t their top priority. They were more concerned with issues like climate change or the opioid epidemic before COVID became a part of the mix. Where does that put us? If one white person was being shot and killed by police each day, what would the country’s response be? It would be a 180-degree change, the same way we now recognize people need treatment for opioid addiction, but needed stiffer prison sentences when the addicts were Black.

Our allies should be in the street right now. Instead, everyone’s celebrating that Chauvin was convicted. (And I really won’t believe change is in the air until he is sentenced.) Since 2005, thousands of people like me have been killed by the police. And Chauvin was just the eighth officer convicted of murder. In his first 100 days, I haven’t seen Biden value Black lives any more than he did on the campaign trail.

Biden’s a Trojan horse for Black people. He talks the talk, says all the right things, but he doesn’t walk the walk. He’s like someone who moves into a gentrified neighborhood a Black person has been pushed out of and puts a “Black Lives Matter” sign in his front yard.

This lack of significant action speaks for itself: Black lives don’t matter. And now we’re celebrating progress. Just like when this country thought it solved homelessness, people have already moved on. Too many of our “leaders” are getting their bread buttered by the same system they should be calling to task.

Wendell Williams is an artist and vendor with Street Sense.