Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
Like many people, Derek Chauvin’s trial was top-of-mind for me last week. To me, it seemed like there was only one reasonable outcome, a guilty verdict, but I still held my breath during the announcement. After the verdict was announced, the social media frenzy claiming justice had been served soon followed. It’s important to honor our victories when they occur, there’s medicine in that acknowledgment, but the declaration that justice had been served didn’t, and still doesn’t sit right with my spirit.
To say that justice had been served, in my mind, reduces justice to a single action, as opposed to an adjective, an innate characteristic our society as a whole should be striving for. And while the guilty verdict was a correct action, it was not justice; an unjust system will willingly sacrifice one of its own to maintain its power.
Justice: is a world in which George Floyd is still alive.
Justice: is a world in which Derek Chauvin would have been found guilty without Darnella Frazier’s irrefutable video.
Justice: is a world in which last week’s guilty verdict would have been the only reasonable outcome and not the one we had to hope for after months of relentless protests and other actions.
Justice: is a world in which Ma’Khia Bryant’s call to the police for HELP would not have ended in the loss of her life.
Justice: is a world in which Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, as well as George Floyd, Ma’Khia Bryant, and countless other Black and Brown folx are still alive.
Elie Wiesel once said, “The opposite of love, isn’t hate, it’s indifference.” Parsha Kedoshim, the second parsha of last week’s double portion (Achrei Mot-Kedoshim), commands us, among other things, v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, to love our neighbors as ourselves. In that spirit, I see justice and love deeply intertwined; they are both active and intentional. We cannot pursue a truly just society without committing to a love beyond ourselves that creates change, that is dynamic, and fiercely committed to destroying the idols and relics of a system committed to indifference toward the lives of Black and Brown people.