Minneapolis, George Floyd, and Me

August 2020. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

George Floyd and I both chose to settle in Minneapolis and we both loved it here. But then our stories start to diverge. I am a privileged white person and I am alive and heartbroken. He is an African-American and he is dead. I am an ESTJ. We will never know George Floyd's personality type.

George Floyd had high hopes that he would love living here, too, but he lost his life due to the actions of the Minneapolis police. He was accused of passing a bogus $20 bill and handcuffed. The rest is now history.

George Floyd's words, "I can't breathe," are a simple fact — a poignant Sensing detail. It is based on a reality, one of the gifts of Sensing. And those words have become a striking metaphor for so much in our racist-affected world. And that brings us to one of the gifts of Intuition: using metaphors and seeing the meaning beyond the words.

There is power in an 8 minute and 46 second pause, not just because of the length of time but because of its meaning. That's how long the police officer knelt on Floyd's neck. And during funerals, protests and remembrances, others have knelt that long too. Sensing and Intuition, hand in hand. Yet accuracy of facts is also a blessing (and a curse) of Sensing — it turns out it was actually 7 minutes and 46 seconds.

There is power, too, in the thousands of protesters who come day after day, night after night, to protest racism and police violence and to march for change.

And then there were the looters and rioters who embedded themselves among the peaceful protesters and thus hid. I understand frustration and the need for changes in the system but I don't understand the need for physical destruction.

I condemn destructive behavior whether to celebrate a home team winning a championship or to memorialize the life of someone unjustly killed. Over 1000 buildings and businesses were affected in Minneapolis; most were on a street that has long welcomed minority-owned businesses. Three public housing projects were damaged or destroyed.

In the Twin Cities, over two dozen drug stores were targeted in all parts of the cities. Looters hauled off the safes that had controlled drugs including opioids. In one case, they brought in a chain saw to cut the safe out of the cabinets. This is not about a peaceful protest! That was an excuse for personal gain.

So what does a peaceful protest and memorial look like? Here it is…I took the photo below on June 15, three weeks after Floyd's death at this site. Community artists Cadex Herrera, Greta McLain and Xena Goldman painted this at the pop-up George Floyd Memorial at 38th and Chicago in south Minneapolis.

An informal memorial outside Cup Foods

Think too about the relationship between Sensing and Intuition with the sign below at that same location.

A hand-painted cardboard sign with the words 'Because White Men Can't Police Their Imagination Black Men Are Dying' -- Claudia Rankine

Watching plywood coverings go up over glass in my neighborhood buildings to protect them from rioters and looters was sobering — and just plain ugly.

But seeing mural artists convert that plywood into powerful messages — that's just plain beautiful. I have walked around my neighborhood and others and was both sobered and uplifted by the messages.

Windows boarded up with plywood, covered with colorful painted racial justice slogans

"I hope you hear inside my voice of sorrow and that it motivates you to make a better tomorrow" — Stevie Wonder

"Don't be silent about things that matter" — Martin Luther King, Jr

"The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth" — African proverb

Racism is a fact and there are consequences to actions and inactions, now more than ever. How much time is needed to reflect, to use our Introverted side? And what exactly do we do when we use our action or Extraverted side?

What are logical (Thinking) decisions that reflect our values (Feeling)?

When do we continue to gather information (Perceiving) and when do have enough information, let's have some closure (Judging).

Let's not have any more memorials that look like this either — the names of African-Americans killed by police in the USA.

An art installation of with a collection of mock gravestones each bearing the name of a black man killed by police. Say their names is written on the hill in the background.

Finally, as one of the murals said, "Stronger Together." And that's the message of psychological type as well.