Yesterday was a difficult, emotional day. On Monday, the day before yesterday, I had an excision close to my right eye and today it seems (for me, at least) the best symbolic explanation of the experience of the past two days. Let me try to explain the strength of the mixed feelings in this way.
An excision is defined as: the act or procedure of removing by or as if by cutting out, especially by surgical removal or resection. I had a squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer more serious than a basal cell, but not serious if not left to grow in the body. My only concern was the closeness of the growth to my eye, but my dermatologist assured me that there was enough soft tissue around the cancer to successfully excise it without danger. My sight, in other words, would not be compromised. The procedure went as planned and today I can see just fine, but I am aware of a bit of swelling discomfort to my eye.
Yesterday I also found myself weeping at several moments around the announcement of the triple conviction of Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd. There was a fair amount of tension as the time for the announcement of the jury decision loomed. I knew that if the decision was “Not guilty” on any of the counts it would be dangerous to the peace in the country. My relief when the verdict of guilty on all three counts was announced was total. As painful as it was to admit that I was grateful for a verdict that would mean severe punishment for any individual, I knew it was just, merited even, and that vindication was the best answer in this case. I cried with joy for the Floyd family, for all the people of color in our country, for all people who’ve been wrongly accused and punished, and for those who refuse to respect the rights of others to exist and thrive. I cried for myself as well and any shred of racism that remains in my heart.
I think yesterday was the first time I was so conflicted, not about the decision—because of the clarity of its correctness—but because of my actual feeling of joy in light of the decision. It is difficult to parse the feelings sitting in me. Perhaps I needn’t do so but only leave them and recognize that they exist. The question for me will be only whether or not I can forgive Derek Chauvin for his crimes. Perhaps if I come to see more clearly my own subtle racism, that clarity may shed light on how I am to proceed in my dealings with all people who are different from myself. And if love is a result of this recognition, my right eye will be healed.