This Black Historical past Month, I’m Caught Considering Concerning the Current
In the present day is the primary day of Black Historical past Month. It is usually the day Tyre Nichols shall be laid to relaxation. On Friday, folks throughout the nation watched and shared footage of law enforcement officials brutally attacking Nichols and leaving him with out support. The nation witnessed as Nichols referred to as out for his mother and requested the officers: “What did I do?”
In the present day is the primary day of Black Historical past Month, and I’m caught fascinated about the Black current and future.
But it surely’s not simply Nichols who’s heavy on my thoughts and coronary heart this week. Two days in the past, Atatiana Jefferson’s sister, Amber Carr, died of congestive coronary heart failure at age 33. Amber’s son Zion, eight years previous on the time, was with Atatiana when a police officer killed her in her own residence.
Simply earlier than being gunned down by a Texas cop, Atatiana had moved in together with her mom, Yolanda Carr, to be her caretaker. Yolanda Carr died three months after her daughter. Atatiana’s father, Marquis Jefferson, died of a coronary heart assault simply weeks after his daughter’s homicide.
A protester in New York on June 12, 2020.
Cynthia Atchison, mom of Jimmy Atchison, died final 12 months at age 52—three years after an Atlanta police officer killed her son.
Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, died in 2017 following problems from an enlarged coronary heart at age 27. She by no means lived to see the officer, who used a banned chokehold on her father, be held accountable.
Venida Browder, mom of Kalief Browder, died in 2016 from problems of a coronary heart assault at age 63. It was one 12 months after Kalief’s loss of life by suicide, following his wrongful detention at Rikers Island.
The record goes on, maddeningly ad infinitum.
“Police violence is a neighborhood killer,” wrote Lee Merritt, Atatiana’s household’s legal professional. In an publication to their neighborhood, The African American Coverage Discussion board—the place Amber Carr was a #SayHerName Moms Community member—famous: “The information cycles might move, however for households like Amber and Atatiana’s, their grief endures, and too usually and sadly, grows.” The violence of police brutality by no means ends with the general public execution. Even when mainstream media cycles shift consideration, the households of police brutality victims are endlessly modified and left preventing for accountability in isolation, consumed by the lonely street to justice.
In the present day is the primary day of Black Historical past Month, and I’m indignant as hell.
I do know Black persons are artistic and good and progressive and pioneering, however proper now, I really feel as if I’ve so little to have a good time. I’ve so many ambitions and plans that really feel small when looking at a neighborhood of Black folks being hunted and killed for your entire world to see.
I want police would cease killing us. I want state violence would cease inflicting lethal trauma onto the family members of its victims. I want Zion Carr didn’t have panic assaults or blame himself for what occurred the night time his aunt was killed. I want the previous couple of years of Zion’s life weren’t consumed by loss of life. I want folks in energy did a greater job at pretending to present a rattling. I want I didn’t really feel so passive for utilizing my keyboard as a substitute of my fists. I want we might do extra than simply reside to see one other day.
Principally, I want Atatiana and Amber and Yolanda and Marquis and Eric and Erica and Kalief and Venida and Jimmy and Cynthia have been all nonetheless alive, and that February was a month of unbridled pleasure.
There’s a lot I can’t change. I can’t convey again those that have already been killed or put a right away cease to future killings.
I can use this Black Historical past Month to have a good time Black life even whereas I mourn Black loss of life.”
However I can cease believing that the prison authorized system might ever be a purveyor of justice. I can refuse to fall for the lie of reform. I can maintain house for my emotions and my communities.
I can bear in mind Tyre Nichols as RowVaughn Wells’ son, as somebody who cherished skateboarding and images. I can rewatch movies of him perfecting methods, gliding and flipping with out a care.
I can bear in mind Atatiana as Marquis Jefferson’s child lady and solely little one. I can recall her as Zion’s “Aunt Tay,” who nurtured her sick mom, cooked burgers, and performed video video games on the weekend.
I can use this Black Historical past Month to have a good time Black life even whereas I mourn Black loss of life. I can hug my very own nephew shut and whisper affirmations whereas he coos up at me, ignorant to the cruelty of the world he’s been born into. I can play Renaissance on repeat and obsess over Beyoncé tickets. I can decide up my present learn, Relaxation Is Resistance by self-proclaimed “Nap Bishop” Tricia Hersey, and meditate on her phrases. I can carry up my voice and sing and dance and chortle and play and eat and pray.
I can select pleasure, and I’ll, as a result of I do know there’s a system designed to rob me of it—and I refuse to present that system any extra of a bonus.
Brea Baker is racial and gender justice activist working regionally and nationally in the direction of the liberation of all oppressed folks with an emphasis on Black folks and ladies. When not organizing, yow will discover her touring the world, listening to Beyonce, or manifesting the life her ancestors deserved.