If you are Black in America, you need not worry with setting goals too far in advance, for you might not live long enough to see them to fruition.
On Saturday, April 29th, 2017, Jordan Edwards was slain at the hands of a police officer in Dallas, Texas. He was leaving a house party with a group of friends and his brother. He did not engage with the officer. He did not threaten the officer. He did not have a weapon. He wasn’t fleeing the scene. He was simply…leaving. Yet he was shot and killed with a rifle while sitting helplessly in the passenger seat of a car.
He was 15 years old, a high school freshman, a good student, a talented athlete, a son, a brother, a friend — but most importantly, albeit tragically…he was Black. And in this country, Blackness is far more than just a box checked on an application, an induction into the comradery and inclusiveness of cultural references through ‘Black Twitter’, a prerequisite for good rhythm or being knowledgeable of slang terms, or an innate predisposition to pull the ‘race card’, as others would ignorantly suggest. No, our Blackness in America transcends the impact our community has had on the cuisine, music, literature, culture and the fashion industries of this nation. Our Blackness trumps the very fiber of our ancestral blood rooted in the depths of the very ground we walk on, because in America, our Blackness is a death sentence.
The irony of this country: ‘The land of the free’, is how the very argument of our Blackness symbolizing more, can quite actually be a paradoxical statement. It seems that for murderous police officers, volunteer ‘neighborhood watchmen’, and a disturbingly large population of the nation find our Blackness to be far less. So less in fact, that our accomplishments and contributions to this country mean absolutely nothing to them. We aren’t given the benefit of the doubt. We aren’t seen as individuals. We aren’t seen as equals. So while our Blackness bears such a tremendous and impactful weight on our shoulders — it means absolutely nothing to them. Which would explain why it’s so easy for them to murder us and defend it.
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I am the mother of a 7 year old Black boy. I weep every time I read a story of another Black person killed, especially a child. I see his face on the faces of the children slain. He is them and they are him. They are branded the moment they’re born: dangerous, intimidating, shifty, and suspicious. And we, their mothers, plan their funerals before we plan their graduations.
We wonder…how do we tell them that they may die? Is that something you tell a young boy? Do you prepare them for the evils of this world? Or do you allow them to enjoy their blissful ignorance, even at the risk of their own lives? How do you prevent someone from being in the wrong place, at the wrong time? How do we protect our children when we are also in danger?
Are we to continue to play defense while the opposition continues to absolve itself? If we aren’t going to tackle this issue from the root — systemic racism, economic disenfranchisement, etc., then how are we to grow as a country? Because despite the technological advancements, America has been singing the same tragic and murderous tune since its founding. And we’re sick and tired of it.
We don’t sign up to be martyrs. We don’t strive to have our loved one’s faces on the next poster at a Black Lives Matter march. We don’t look for new bodies to keep the movement going. We look for our children to return home when they leave in the morning. We look for our brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers to come home in one piece. We look towards our future with hope and promise. We look for a resolution. An end. So our lives can finally begin — uninterrupted.
My sincerest condolences to the family of Jordan Edwards. My prayers are with his family and with every Black family in America. We matter. We have always risen in the face of adversity and we too shall rise above this.