When I first heard about what happened to George Floyd, I didn’t want to watch the video. I already knew how it would end. Another Black man killed at the hands of police. I just recently saw a short clip of it. He died calling out to his mother, with a knee on the back of his neck. When he said, “I can’t breathe,” it reminded me of Eric Garner. I was horrified that this is still happening, yet I was not surprised. To know that he was killed over $20 really hurts. What that says to me is that his life was not worth more than a twenty dollar bill, when he was worth so much more. Whether or not the bill was counterfeit does not matter. Money and merchandise can be replaced. Lives cannot. Unfortunately, this is a common issue for Black lives in America and other parts of the world. And there are many other Black men and women just like George Floyd.
Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old in a hoodie, walking home after buying Skittles and an Arizona tea. George Zimmerman assumed that Trayvon was in the wrong neighborhood, and was warned to not take matters into his own hands. He did anyway, and would later get away with murder. Tamir Rice was only 12 years old in a park with a toy gun. Police were warned that he was just a kid with a toy, but they shot and killed him anyway. Eric Garner was only selling cigarettes, when police performed an illegal chokehold and killed him. Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old EMT; she was only sleeping. Aiyanna Stanley-Jones was 7 years old; she was only sleeping. Ahmaud Arbery. Mike Brown. Sandra Bland. Philando Castile. The list goes on. As if the crimes committed against us aren’t enough, we don’t even get proper justice. All of these lives were taken like they were disposable. And I’m sick of the blatant disregard for Black people. I mourned each and every one, like they were my own family.
Every time they kill one of us, I feel a mix of emotions: enraged, hurt, distraught, tired, overwhelmed, sad, disgusted, and powerless. I have a lot to say, yet I don’t always have the words. We’re painted in a negative light for simply trying to exist. We’re treated as either subhuman or superhuman, both of which can have deadly consequences. We are often seen as angry by default, when it’s passion that we feel. Anger is a basic human emotion, and we should be allowed to feel it. We have been killed without disregard for centuries because of our skin color, and we live in a constant state of unrest. We are resilient as a people, but sometimes being perceived as “strong” prevents us from getting proper care for our bodies and our minds. Knowing that many of us die because of racism takes a toll on our mental health, and often times our mental illnesses are swept under the rug. Having strength should not come with negative stereotypes or consequences. Maybe I am strong, but I also know that I don’t always have to be.
Some people are upset about the protests, the riots, and the looting. But I say, “By any means necessary.” Even Martin Luther King, Jr., said that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” And we are definitely that. How long do we have to be unheard and unseen? When will the mountains of racism move? When will freedom ring? The fight is far from over. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. So what’s next? How do we continue to move toward a better future? We’ll keep marching, supporting each other, and taking care of ourselves. To every Black person out there fighting to be seen, to be heard, or to just exist—don’t give up. I hope and pray for a future that better serves Black lives. Will I be alive to see it?