I am so tired. I am a college student with dreams, goals, and aspirations. I have a fresh mind, I am vigorous, and I am passionate. It is sad how all of that can be taken away from me because of the way an officer may see me, or profile me. Not only is it sad, but it is disgusting that even if an officer were to put a bullet through my back or block my airways until I cannot breathe any longer, on CAMERA, he may not face the consequences for what he just did because he is a white officer.
I was born in 1996, so I grew up in the 2000s. I remember as a third grader, I learned about Martin Luther King, and how people did not think that black people mattered. I learned about these things in my history books, and in my eight-year-old mind, things like “racism” no longer existed in the present. I really believed that race was not something that people saw when they looked into my eyes because I did not see race among others.
I now live in a time where I am aware of all of the racial tensions that have lied under my childhood, and I have concluded that these racial tensions can no longer be buried. When white officers are getting away with what is obviously malice murder, there is a problem. When a murderer can go home to his family and have a peaceful meal while the victim’s family has to celebrate Thanksgiving with a newly empty seat, there is a problem. When African Americans are not being treated equally under the law, there is a problem.
I had so much hope in the grand jury that was over the case for Eric Garner because of the fact that millions of us watched a mob of officers take him down, even though he did not put his hands on them. When I heard that the jury made the decision of no indictment, I was floored. My entire childhood fairytale of “racism is a thing of past” had been shattered at that moment. With Michael Brown, I believe that the injustice demonstrated in Ferguson was something that could have been speculated. The injustice was speculated with Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell. The difference with Eric Garner was that this was blatant. It was a blatant disregard for black lives by the grand jury. EVERYONE watched that officer put Eric Garner in a chokehold. EVERYONE heard Eric Garner scream, “I can’t breathe.” EVERYONE saw that officer disregard Garner’s cry for help. EVERYONE saw it.
The question is: what do we do? Why are we protesting? We cannot protest that all officers wear body cameras anymore because people have chosen to shield their eyes to white crime against African Americans. How do we convince them that ALL lives matter? How do we demand for a permanent end to police brutality? Why am I chanting, “I can’t breathe” in solidarity with Staten Island if they will put another black body in a chokehold? Why do I have my hands up in the air screaming, “Don’t shoot,” in solidarity with Ferguson if they will shoot me anyways? How do we convince them? Will we ever be able to convince them? Will I have to live in constant fear of an officer for the rest of my life?
Kenya Hunter is a college freshman at Brenau University with a bit of an opinion.
This piece was reprinted by EmpathyEducates with permission or license. We thank, Kenya Hunter for her kindness, for her heartfelt reflection. We are grateful for the opportunity to remember our dreams and ponder; do we wish to rebuild these.