Deanna Winston '21 with her mom at the George Floyd memorial site.

George Floyd's horrific death sent shockwaves through the county. Deanna Winston '21 lives and prays at the epicenter of America's racial reckoning.

The protest, not the peaceful kind, was getting closer. This particular march - mere miles from where George Floyd was murdered - was fueled by rage, not calls for justice. Winston's sister called with a warning. The looters were descending on their neighborhood Target. "Be careful." So, Winston and her father got in the car and fled. Not away from the protests, but directly toward them. They had their windows down, and gospel music blaring from the speakers. 

Winston grew up on the south side of Minneapolis, not far from where Floyd was killed. The family home is now in Edina, no more than a 15-minute drive to Minnesota's largest city. Winston and her dad went there, too. They sought out the riots and the looting. They had a purpose there.

"Some people are called to riot, some people are called to give back, I was called to pray."

Winston can't recall any incidents of racism living downtown, but that changed in the suburbs. Her older brother has lighter skin than hers. His hair is blonde. Winston's classmates would argue, "There's no way you're related?!" They have an adopted brother who has darker skin. "Are you sure he's not your biological brother?"

Winston doesn't believe those microaggressions were intended with racist malice, but they hurt all the same. She had a hard time articulating those feelings in high school. She would just react on instinct, though, always defending her big brother. Now, as the country confronts racial inequality - intended and otherwise - she thinks about it more often. She thought about it while standing in front of the George Floyd memorial with her mom.

There's a mural of Floyd at his memorial. Winston said she looked at his face, and she thought about what happened to him, and others. She was struck by the peacefulness in that moment. She prayed.

"There are buildings burning down all around us. But it's still in God's control."

A week later, Winston and her dad went back to the same neighborhood Target, this time to shop. They learned that the doors would be opening a few minutes later than usual, so they pulled into the parking lot to wait. A few minutes later, a car pulled up alongside them. A white woman and a white girl seemed confused about when the store would open. Winston rolled down her window and tried to get the girl's attention. The girl ignored her repeated attempts. It felt intentional. Winston's dad told her "it is what it is" and they let it go. There's a conversation happening in this country right now about race. But it's only a start. 

"You can feel a lot of judgment in this country right now. People are trying to hold other people accountable. At the end of the day, we need to show people the love of Christ. We need to pray for those who show hate and racism. I’m not justifying their actions. It’s plain wrong. And you still need to show the love." 

Deanna Winston '21