This time last year: ‘Whats In For Us’ podcast remembers George Floyd

“We cannot look away. We have stay focused on this fight for justice,” said guest host Marina Franklin

George Floyd mural (Credit: The George Floyd Community Benevolence Fund)

Tuesday marked a grim anniversary for many Black Americans as we collectively remembered and reflected on the day George Floyd’s murder was captured on video and became a catalyst for a summer of racial unrest in the midst of a global pandemic.

This week on What’s In It For Us, host and theGrio politics contributor Dr. Christina Greer invited comedian, writer and actor Marina Franklin to reflect on the past year since that earth-shattering video went viral, and talk about how comedy can help us make sense of our grief. 

Last year’s protests were fueled in part by an inability to turn away as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent fall-out. Franklin recalled what it was like to not be able to turn to her work in the same way.

“I’m thinking about where I was when I couldn’t go out, when I couldn’t perform on stage and make everything funny,” said Franklin. “I had to actually look at the screen and face the reality of what America is, which is a very racist country.”

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Franklin said finding a way to talk about darker subject matter takes time, but it’s always in the back of her mind as she uses the stage to reflect on the world around her. Complicating that task is the slow return back into nightclubs and comedy lounges, which often means working out difficult material in front of white audiences who may not share the same views as her. 

“At home, I can control my audience, and have my audience be my friends, who all have the same opinion of me,” said Franklin. “All of sudden when I get on that stage, I’m dealing with people who don’t agree with what I’m saying. So the thing is, I have to get them laughing so that I can get out what I want to say.” 

One of the comedians who influenced and encouraged Franklin was legendary comic and writer Paul Mooney. Mooney, who got his start writing for Richard Pryor and the sitcom, Sanford and Son, died in May 2021 from a heart attack. Mooney was notorious for his racially-charged material. His appearances on Chappelle’s Show in the early 2000s introduced Mooney to a younger generation of fans, who still quote his work on that show to this day.

Paul Mooney thegrio.com
Comedian Paul Mooney takes part in a discussion panel after the world premiere screening of “That’s What I’m Talking About” at The Museum of Television (Credit: Getty Images)

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Franklin said Mooney represented an era when comedians could talk candidly and unapologetically on stage regardless of who was in the audience. 

“Paul Mooney would be the kind of comedian that the alt-right would try to cancel if he were to still be doing comedy during that time,” said Franklin. “No shame, no guilt, no apologies,” 

While she’s unsure about when and if she’ll ever be able to fully talk about Floyd’s particular tragedy within the Black community, Franklin said our fight for justice and calling out inequity is never far from her mind.

Stay tuned to What’s In It For Us, the funny and politically edgy Black commentary podcast. Now streaming on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher. 

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!

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