My Struggles Are Black -- A Journalist’s Memoir
As a journalist, it can be hard to stay unbiased during situations regarding topics you’re truly passionate about. It’s my job to be unbiased and state the facts. Today, however, I feel I need to take my journalist hat off to tend to a larger issue at hand.
The last 31 days have been very eventful. America is still fighting to end the pandemic of COVID-19. Students all over the world have had to go without proper ceremonies to commemorate their academic achievements. Social media is flooded with posts representing solidarity, as individuals across the country gather to protest several incidences of police brutality.
Others, including myself, are finding unique ways to express their sentiments during this time.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville EMT, was killed inside of her apartment after police entered the wrong home. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was also inside the apartment, and shot at officers when they tried to enter without announcing themselves. According to The Washington Post, the officers were looking for a man who had already been detained and didn’t even live in Taylor’s complex. Police allegedly fired more than 20 rounds of ammunition; Breonna was shot at least eight times, and Walker was arrested and faces charges.
25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in a neighborhood outside of Brunswick, Georgia when he was killed. Two white men pursued him in a pickup truck and shot him to death. According to The Cut, neither of the father-son duo were arrested or charged until May; even though the father admitted to police, two months before, that his son was responsible for the shooting.
21-year- old Sean Reed lost his life after a car chase. Reed’s alleged reckless driving is what started the incident. He was streaming live on Facebook, and everybody watching witnessed when he was shot several times. There were comments made about how well he was tased, and the video also contained audio of crude comments made by a nearby detective. “Think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” the detective said.
In late April, Steve Taylor was inside a California Walmart when he was killed. Lee Merritt, the attorney representing the case, said Taylor “was going through a mental health crisis…and that he [had] previously suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar depression.” He was waving a baseball bat when the authorities were contacted. Video footage allegedly shows one of the officers utilizing a taser after Taylor had dropped the bat and was lying on the floor of the store. According to police, he was also shot in the upper torso. Taylor died at the scene.
The most recent publicized occurrence of police brutality happened in Minneapolis. 46-year-old George Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $2o bill. After Floyd was handcuffed, an officer kneeled on his neck for what’s said to be eight minutes. Floyd pleaded several times that he couldn’t breathe, and witnesses begged the officer to remove him from the ground. According to CNN, a new video shows not one, but three officers kneeling on his body—- even after the subject appeared to be motionless.
“What we saw was horrible, complete and utterly messed up,” said a witness. “[George Floyd’s] life [mattered]. He matters. He was somebody’s son, someone’s family member, someone’s friend. He was a human being, and his life mattered.”
I shared these stories to put into perspective why so many are mourning, disheartened, and angry — among feeling other emotions. This isn’t the first time incidences of police brutality have happened; These stories are only the most timely examples (Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and others who’s stories haven’t received national recognition). Here’s where my journalist hat comes off:
I have black sisters and brothers.
My mother and father are black.
My friends are black.
The art I create and consume is black.
My skin is black.
The very things that represent my identity, the core of who I am, make me a target. And although I need no reminder of it, what was reiterated to the world this month, and over and over again, is that my struggles are black.
I don’t want you to mistake these statements for the sole reason(s) that you, or I, should partake in the fight to make a difference. After all, the fact that your friends, children, or significant others are black should not be the only reason you decide to stand up against racism during this time.
It’s about fighting wrong because it’s wrong. There is value in human lives alone and no one should have the authority to say otherwise —- race is no exception.