A few days ago while sitting on a bench waiting for a friend, I couldn’t help but notice a beautiful, barefoot little girl skipping through the water feature in front of the Hughes Pavilion at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina, Minn.
Her cute summer outfit, light turquoise bib overall shorts and a pale pink T-shirt was topped off with a dark pink bobble that held back her long black hair. She was running through the water spouts, squealing with delight, getting soaking wet.
My Nikon was around my neck since I was going to be photographing my friend. I raised my camera and took a couple of photos of her. She eyed me with a wondering, yet cautious smile.
She kept having fun, skipping through the water spouts. Her father was sitting on the next bench busy on his phone while holding a tiny, tiny puppy. Every once in a while, he’d say something to her.
After a few minutes, the little girl came closer to me. She stopped playing, stood still for a few seconds, looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Do you know George Floyd?”
I was taken aback by her question. There was no preamble.
“Yes, I know George Floyd,” I said adding, “I didn’t know him ‘personally,’ but I know who he is.” She seemed pleased with my answer.
She responded without hesitation and even more confidence: “BLACK LIVES MATTER!”
“Yes, they DO!” I responded, smiling, waiting and listening for what was to come next.
“Black people don’t burn down houses!” she stated emphatically.
I had no idea what she would say next, but I was listening, believe me, I was listening!
She continued the conversation with me for a few more minutes and then she simply went back to skipping and squealing in the water. It wasn’t long before her father said it was time to go and they left. Later, I was sorry we hadn’t exchanged names.
Soon, my friend came. An African born woman now a U.S. citizen, she is running for City Council. I shared with her about my conversation with the little girl and how extraordinary I thought it was. Me, a soon-to-be 75-year-old white woman. She, I’d estimate about an 8-year-old Black girl. Strangers. I’m so glad she trusted herself — and me — enough to speak.
My friend and I agreed it was a profound conversation of note. That cute, confident and compelling little girl gives me hope for the future.