Remembering Darnella, Joe, and George’s moms

Dear President Biden,

How are you this evening? By now you’re probably trying to wind down for the night since it’s almost 10pm Eastern. I’m guessing it’s going to be kind of hard for you to settle and maybe even harder for you to sleep tonight after meeting with George Floyd’s family this afternoon, especially since the police reform bill you so wanted to have signed by today is stalled in the Senate.

Did you see the WP piece about Darnella Frazier and how for weeks after she bore witness while Chauvin slowly murdered George, she couldn’t settle unless her mother rocked her to sleep? She needed her mom there with her at night, in the dark when there were no distractions and the literal video was no doubt playing in her head over and over. Darnella’s mom rocking her to sleep, helping her get past the waking nightmare of that imagery night after night feels like a poignant echo of George’s cries for his mom as Chauvin crushed the life out of him.

What was your mom like?

Awww, I just read the sweetest article about her – what a fortunate guy you were and are to have had Jean Biden in your corner. I’m sure she would have rocked you to sleep if you needed her to. And, it rather sounds like she would have reminded you that you can bear whatever it is that you need to bear (and that you can, and should, feel whatever it is you’re feeling). I love the lead Jean Biden quote the Marie Claire article included:

“Without courage, you cannot love with abandon.”

Is that your secret sauce? Did she and your father somehow raise you to be courageous enough to love with abandon? Hmm – I do actually love that idea that courage leads to greater capacity for love, but it also occurs to me that those who are fortunate enough to have been raised with unconditional love to spare get a leg up on the courage quotient since they always know that no matter what, they’re loved. As in, I think it’s way easier to take risks and be brave and courageous if you know in your heart of hearts that you’ll still be loved by your important people regardless of whether you succeed or fail.

I wonder if George had that with his mom. I bet Darnella has it with hers. I hope so.

I also hope that your quite clear capacity to love with abandon will help you stay squarely in the fight for the police reform legislation. Yes, I wish to goodness that we were talking about something far more radical, something that would recast our whole way of thinking about public safety and the public good, but in this situation, something is almost certainly better than nothing so please don’t let up on this campaign promise.

May we all be safe in our encounters with police.
May we all be willing to agitate until systemic racism is excised from all of our systems.
May we trust that we can be creative and compassionate enough to imagine and enact such changes.
May we all know the love that leads to courage and use our courage in the service of love.

Tracy Simpson

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