Painting by Michael Ray Charles. Image courtesy Lana Rigsby.

I AM AN ALLY IN PROGRESS

The Beautiful Spirit of George Floyd

By Aarianna Barnes

Let it be about the life and love of someone golden.

When trying to come up with a statement to perfectly summarize the pain, grief, and agony we may all be feeling due to the recent unfair, unnecessary, and unalterable murder of George Floyd... I realize that nothing we say or do will restore Mr. Floyd’s life.

I’ve sat and wondered these past few days that perhaps if murderers examined human life through a more realistic lens — as something that is finite and limited — rather than through an illogical lense — as something infinite and boundless... then perhaps they would find meaninglessness in participating in the act of murder in the first place.

In a perfect world one of us could rewind the hands of time, pull George Floyd’s murderer off of him, and stop him from succeeding in the irreversible, life-ending, life-altering crime he was about to commit. In a perfect world, we would still have George Floyd.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. We seem to live in a world governed by an unspoken system that despises dark skin in almost every corner of this earth. It is more than unfortunate that as human beings, our outward appearance can, and will, destroy our lives. It is more than unfortunate that we live in a society that fertilizes hatred based on outward appearance. It is unfortunate that many people have fought and died to make a change, and we still have not experienced these changes.

And so, as I researched George’s death, I realized that it is more important
and monumental to talk about his life.

Even though George Floyd can no longer be with us on this earth, we know he is here with us in spirit.

In fact, George is a man of faith. He has a beautiful spirit. His fiancé, Courtney Ross said, “We would pray over every meal. We prayed if we were having a hard time. We prayed if we were having a good time. George stood up for people. He was there for people when they were down. He loved people that were thrown away.”

George’s brother, Philonise Floyd, said George was a gentle giant, who wouldn’t hurt anyone. George would give his last to anybody. “I loved my brother. Everyone I know loved my brother.”

George Floyd grew up in Houston's third ward neighborhood. He was a great football player and basketball player. Eventually, George’s talent was recognized and he was recruited to play basketball by Coach George Walker, at South Florida State College in Avon Park, Florida.

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash.

The Walkers were over-the-moon about George. Gloria Walker, wife of Coach Walker, said George Floyd was never one to blame others for his own mistakes. He always owned up to them and always tried to do better. He was a fun person to be around.

George saw a future for himself. He wanted better for his life and wanted to be able to provide more for his family. Which is what caused him to move to Minnesota in the first place, to find work driving trucks. George often echoed how he wanted to grow and most importantly, be a better father.

His best friend, former NBA player Stephen Jackson, said all him and George talked about was growing, and their kids.

George has 2 daughters. One in her 20’s and one aged 6. His 20 year old daughter just had a baby, and George had not yet had the opportunity to meet his very first grandchild.

In addition to driving trucks, George also worked security at Conga Latin Bistro — his boss and fellow employees all loved him.

When we step back and examine the life of George Floyd, we all probably come to the same resounding conclusion: what a nice man.

George’s spirit was golden and he lived a life where he was able to bring fun and genuine support and happiness to the lives around him.

I often ask why terrible things happen to good people. But seeing George’s daughter, Gianna Floyd, bravely face us and announce that her father changed the world confirms one thing within me:

That George is in a better, more peaceful, more sacred place. A place with equality, with true liberty, with true justice. And although he is no longer here, George’s life speaks volumes.

Rest in power, George Floyd.

ABOUT THE WRITER

My name is Aarianna Barnes, and I am a graphic designer at W. W. Norton & Company. I am also the CEO of Collective Culture Magazine (@ccmag_). When I’m not plugging away at my job or my magazine, I like to spend my time exercising and looking after my family.

CC Mag aims to be the first diversity & wellness digital magazine that provides resources to uplift and improve the physical, spiritual, emotional, & financial health of people of color. When we reflect on how precious life is, and how easily it is snatched from so many Black people, we begin to realize that this mission of “making things better” is bigger than all of us. And it rests on our shoulders to be the change here, and now, as urgently and as diligently as possible.

“I AM… spirit lead and anointed”

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Michael Ray Charles was born in 1967 in Lafayette, Louisiana, and graduated from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1985. In college, he studied advertising design and illustration, eventually moving to painting, his preferred medium. Charles also received an MFA degree from the University of Houston in 1993. His graphically styled paintings investigate racial stereotypes drawn from a history of American advertising, product packaging, billboards, radio jingles, and television commercials. The painting of his featured in the hero image was distributed at George Floyd’s memorial service on June 8, 2020 and his funeral on June 9, 2020.