There is only so much trauma a person can take in. I have grown into an adult watching the bodies of my peers die at the hands of the police. I have seen the murderers evade justice. The entire time I am suffering I watch my white peers continue on with their lives. They have the luxury to ignore what is happening. They get to only worry about climate change, healthcare issues and women's rights. They don’t feel the pain as I do, as other black people do. They don’t have to worry if an encounter with the police will end in their death. They still believe in a thing called justice, oh how I wish justice was something I still believed in. Instead, my reality is seeing people who look like me die at hands of the police knowing that mostly likely nothing will change. That soon there will be another — there is always another — and even though we are living through a global pandemic, we still have to fight for our lives because we are not in this together. We are not equal. “I can’t breathe” are the words Eric Garner wheezed when he was killed by the NYPD. Six years later, George Floyd would say the same thing. Those words would usually be met with help, but when you are black those are your last words.
“Hey Mia, Trey and I were just pulled over by the police, I just wanted to let you know in case something happens.” Those were the words I remember my sister saying to me a few years ago. Before she finished the sentence the hairs on my body stood on edge. I am black, my sister is black. I know what can happen when black people encounter the police. We die.
There was a time when I thought as long as I followed the rules, as long as I did not present myself as a threat, I was safe. But no black person is safe when your existence is perceived as a threat. This is America and America was built on racism. It's weaved into the fabric of the country, it pours into our day-to-day life. It masks itself to evolve and change with the times. It gives the illusion that things have gotten better, but it's really just a facelift. One of the modern faces of racism in America is the killing of black people by the police.
The murder of black bodies has been a deep-rooted tradition of this country. The death of Mike Brown in 2014 was the first time I became cognizant of the racism and police brutality in our country, and unfortunately it was not the last time. Countless names compile a never-ending list of black people who have died by the hands of police, and the list of officers convicted of their crimes is short. Every time there is outrage, there is protest but no justice. Black Americans watch time, and time, and time, and time, and time again and see that the blood that flows through our veins means nothing compared to the ones that are outfitted in black and blue uniforms. Everytime we learn of an unnecessary black body dying in the hands of the police is a bullet to our subconscious breaking us down until we become a shell of who we once were.
“Being black is having a good day and then seeing another black person was killed for no reason,” writer and actress Quinta Brunson said via a tweet. “Then you have to think about/talk about that all day. Or don’t and numb yourself. It's a constant emotional war.”
Black America is tired, I am tired. We need for our peers to see our fight, acknowledge and fight with us. We feel every death deep. They need to feel it too. Because until we are all in this fight together, we will continue to fight.