I was flipping through social media on my iPhone when I saw a tiny body dressed in pink in the arms of a policeman. The little girl’s legs and arms dangled, like she was a rag doll.
“They just killed a baby, man, damn,” the crowd screamed. “Awww (expletive), they just killed a baby.”
Police officers and onlookers had surrounded a car in a McDonalds drive-thru on Chicago’s West Side. I could not immediately fully grasp what was playing out before my eyes. My senses were still overloaded from having watched the video of the death George Floyd that played over and over again during the trial of Derek Chauvin. And yet, the sight of this new tragedy caught by someone’s cell phone camera — of a little girl killed in a shooting — made my heart weep.
Nearly a year after the Floyd slaying, which sparked demonstrations around the world, the protest chant that still resonates loudest in my ears and conscience was this: “This is the generation that breaks curses.” It told me something. It helped me understand that I am part of a new generation that has the ability to break curses and bring lasting change.
I was filled with hope and faith that Black people in America are going to be alright.
But I’m not so sure anymore. I’m torn.
Last summer, young protestors of all races — and I was with them — gave me a sense that we might actually be on the brink of taking a giant step toward justice and equality for all. A kind of revolution. Except I find myself wondering now, “When will the revolution come for my people from within?”
As Black people, we are fighting two fights. Not only a battle against racist white faces, but also a battle against heartless Black faces — those who inflict violence upon the innocent, spraying bullets in broad daylight, preying on the living like zombies.
It is so disheartening to wake up to the news that another Black child has been murdered — not at the hand of a white policeman, but by a hand that looks like the child’s hand, a hand that looks like mine.
My head spins as I try to comprehend how my people find the time and will to kill each other when the odds already are against us. COVID-19 claims Black bodies disproportionately. We are bombarded by false justifications for why a white police officer might keep his knee on a black man’s neck until he is dead. Then another unarmed Black man, 19-year-old Daunte Wright, is shot dead in Minnesota by a white female cop who claims she thought she was firing a Taser…
And now comes the news that Jaslyn Adams, just 7 years old, was shot at least six times while in that car with her father at that McDonald’s drive-thru.
I am exhausted by the constant trauma inflicted upon us by others. And by the trauma we inflict upon ourselves. I want to scream. It never ends. I remember how almost a full year ago, in June of last year, a 3-year-old boy, Mekhi James, was shot and killed while sitting in a car on the West Side. And on that very same day, just blocks away, 13-year-old Amaria Jones was shot and killed by a stray bullet while dancing with her mom.
It is an all too familiar narrative. And the truth is, at 22, I’m tired.
We march against systemic racism. But I wonder if this battle is finally ever won. Or whether we will still die at our own Black hands.
Children killed not by white policemen, but by someone who looks like them.
Didn’t their Black lives matter?
Damn, Chicago just killed another baby, man. And it just makes me sick.
Samantha Latson is a graduating senior at Roosevelt University who will attend graduate journalism school this fall at Indiana University.
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