The murder of George Floyd has prompted athletes across the world to take part in protests and create powerful moments of both pain and strength.
None of these moments were more impactful than what former NBA player Stephen Jackson posted on his Instagram Tuesday night.
In a nine-second video, Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter Gianna is seen sitting on the shoulders of Jackson singing arguably the biggest four words of the last week. “Daddy changed the world.”
During that nine-second clip, we saw a child who had lost their innocence forever, a child who likely doesn’t truly know or understand why her father was taken away from her, and a child that is being forced to gain resilience through tragedy.
It’s a moment of both immense helplessness and immense power.
It’s fitting that she finds herself on the shoulders of Jackson, who has become one of the most influential voices in bringing justice for Floyd, his “twin” and longtime friend. Because Gianna’s strength will come from not only within her but it will come from people in her circle like Jackson who refuse to let her go through this tragedy alone.
Since being in Minnesota with Floyd’s family, Jackson has been advocating relentlessly to not only get justice for Floyd but to help his kids have a better future.
“This shit is definitely gonna take care of my brother’s kids,” Jackson said at a rally on Friday.
On Tuesday, Jackson doubled down on his promise to Floyd’s family. That morning, Gianna’s mother Roxie Washington delivered an emotional speech at a press conference in Minneapolis City Hall. She lamented all the things that Floyd was going to miss in their daughter’s life.
Jackson quickly took the podium after Washington and tried to assure the mother that he would be there with Gianna throughout these moments in her life.
“There’s a lot of stuff you said that he’s gonna miss — that I’m gonna be there for,” Jackson told Washington. “I’m gonna walk her down the aisle. I’m gonna be there for her. I’m gonna be here to wipe your tears. I’m gonna be here for you and Gigi.”
Derek Chauvin, a heinous police officer, and a racist system of oppression cost Gianna the chance to grow up with her father. It’s not the first time a young black girl is forced to become brave in the moment of tragedy.
Diamond Reynold’s 4-year-old daughter had to console her in the back of a police car when they both witnessed Minnesota police murder Philando Castile while they were in a vehicle in 2016.
“It’s OK, Mommy … it’s OK, I’m right here with you,” said the daughter. “Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted.”
These are experiences that no human being should have to endure, especially not as children.
“This shit has to stop, “ said Jackson. “We need justice, we demand it and some kind of way goddamnit we going to get it.”
That nine seconds of Gianna and Jackson represents much more than just a touching moment between two hurt individuals. It represents power and the potential for change.
Gianna’s strength and resilience represent a community that has continued to fight and prosper despite reoccurring injustices. The Giannas of the world always find a way to stand up even when the world tells them to sit down.
Jackson’s unwavering support represents the people who are truly ready for a change in this nation. Selflessly ready to lift up the oppressed onto their shoulders and demand justice and equality for all.
The fight certainly isn’t over, but let’s continue to honor Gianna’s words in the wake of her father.
“Daddy changed the world,” said Gianna.
Years later, when we look back on these nine seconds, let’s make sure that she was right.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.