Upon opening up a page on the Internet, I heard a beautiful voice. It was the voice of a 12-year-old-gospel singer named Keedron Bryant who posted an original song about the heartbreaking realities of being a young black man. He was singing “I just want to live.”
Why would a 12-year-old even sing a song like this? Because so many Black and Brown people are being killed either by police brutality, or by white neighborhood watch groups. It started with Eric Garner who was choked to death by New York Cops because he was selling unpackaged cigarettes. And there was Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Stephon Clark, Trayvon Martin, Philandro Castille, Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more.
Ahmaud Arbery was innocently jogging when two armed white residents of Georgia claimed that Ahmaud was running from a robbery in the neighborhood.
All he was doing was jogging. Yet these two residents shot him in the back and killed him.
George Floyd was apprehended by police in Minnesota for allegedly having a forged $20 bill.
Rather than the police reading him his rights and taking him to the station for further questioning, a white police officer struggled Floyd to the ground holding his knee on Floyd’s neck …murdering him.
Breonna Taylor Ms. Taylor, 26, an emergency medical technician, was killed by the police after three officers used a no-knock warrant to enter her apartment with a battering ram, during a late-night drug investigation. The officers shot Ms. Taylor at least eight times.
Trayvon Martin, a Black teen was walking home from a convenience store, and was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer patrolling the community at the Twin Lakes community in Sanford, Florida.
And there were so many more!
These murders are a result of white privilege and police brutality. All people who desperately need to retrained and educated.
- White people are less likely to be followed, interrogated or searched by law enforcement because they look “suspicious.”
- If white people are accused of a crime, they are less likely to be presumed guilty, less likely to be sentenced to death and more likely to be portrayed in a fair, nuanced manner by media outlets.
- The personal faults or missteps of white people will likely not be used to later deny opportunities or compassion to people who share their racial identity.
This privilege is invisible to many white people because it seems reasonable that a person should be extended compassion as they move through the world. It seems logical that a person should have the chance to prove themselves individually before they are judged. But it’s a privilege often not granted to people of color…ending in death.
We can no longer stand by and see our Black and Brown brothers and sisters be murdered.
I asked a very close friend of mine who is like a brother to me and is a Black man to explain to me why Black and Brown people are being murdered at an alarming rate …by white people who take the law into their own hands and by law enforcement.
He explained that it’s a deep rooted fear and until people face that fear and understand it, these murders of innocent Black sand Brown people will never stop.
Having grown up in an affluent white privileged family I look back in shame as I remember my racist family. While there were few Black or Brown people in my school there was a boy who was on the basketball team, We were close friends. One day after school my mother was waiting for me and was so angry I could almost see the steam coming out of her ears. Why? Because someone called her from the PTA and told her that I was walking down the hall at school holding hands and swinging arms with my Black friend. She forbade me from being friends with him.
None of this made sense to me and without a good reason …just an order I disregarded what she had to say. This boy was a nice guy and I had no intention of not being friends with him.
Years later, my best friend who is a Black woman attended a family event with me. When I got home from the event, my mother called saying she could not believe how nice my friend was. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I told my mother she would never have said that if my friend was white. She denied it, but no matter what she said, I know it was true.
I am so grateful that I never saw or felt what my family did. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Black or Brown person but I can clearly see how Black and Brown people are treated and it rocks me to my core.
Black and Brown Lives Matter!
Like the rest of us, I need to do better. We all need to do and be better.
By reading books about Black and Brown people and Black History, understanding what Juneteenth is and watching movies and TV shows like Ava Duvernay’s documentary “13th”, American Son we can learn and do better.
Here is a list of what we should read:
And TV Shows and movies:
- Malcolm X
- Waiting to Exhale
- Killer of Sheep
- Daughters of the Dust
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- Fruitvale Station
- I Am Not Your Negro
- Beyond the Lights
- 12 Years A Slave
- Do the Right Thing
- Just Another Girl On The I.R.T.
- The Learning Tree
- Get Out
- Black Panther
- See You Yesterday
- Losing Ground
- Set It Off
- Sorry to Bother You
We need to educate ourselves, our families and friends. We need to stand up for Black and Brown people so that Black boys never have to sing … “I just want to live,”
Originally published on July 20th, 2020