On Breonna Taylor’s birthday, let us not forget her killers are still free
OPINION: After the recent charges against the killers of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, we must continue to lift our voices to ensure justice for Breonna too.
I am tired. I am exhausted by feeling the need to prove to white people that I am human and I am worthy of life, breath, and all that comes with it. There are days where I cannot pick myself up from the emotional wreck that I have become in the name of Black folks being murdered by the hands of police.
In my tiredness, I am reminded that pain induced by the traumas associated with being Black has a way of settling in our bones. When we think that we are in the clear — free from all the traumas the world sets before us — we are reminded that there are people, places, and systems that will not allow us to rest.
And we are angry. We were not even finished fighting for our lives against medical systems that deemed us unworthy of life in the middle of a global pandemic, and here we are fighting against a government-backed police system that refuses to deem us as worthy of jogging, sleeping, or breathing.
We have a right to be angry. We have a right to fight back in whichever way(s) we choose to do so. This Black pain that settles in our bones reminds me of volcanoes sitting on fault lines. I am not sure if the next headline will cause us to shake the earth or to blow the steam out of our heads, but I know that one of them is coming.
The fights for Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, Black men killed in police and pseudo-police sanctioned murders, are continuing, and, for that, I am grateful. Now, we must find the voices that can carry Breonna Taylor to receiving justice as well. There are people who are incessantly fighting for her beyond her death and they need assistance. This is community. This is collective action. Let us continue to fight, gather, protest, and rally for change in the names of Ahmad, George, AND Breonna. Let us not forget the Black women whose names deserve to be carved into history, as well.
Black women have always been subject to momentary justice as demonstrated by the medical field’s lack of sympathy for Black women’s health concerns, the history of police encounters Black women have endured with no justice to follow, and even with the looting of Black women’s voices in national movements such as #MeToo.
It is time that we actively and loudly #SayHerName until her murderers are brought to justice just as the murderers of Ahmaud and George are being brought forth. I do not want to discredit the work of anyone who has poured their lives out for Black women on the frontlines of protests, in papers, in books, and even in their homes.
However, I am calling out society and its patriarchal approach to everything, including death. We cannot allow this nation to silence Black women in life or in death. We must continue to fight for #BreonnaTaylor, #KarrynGaines, #SandraBland, #AtatianaJefferson, and a host of ancestors whom we remember on Breonna’s birthday.
In honor of Breonna Taylor’s birthday, and before hurricane season (another trauma for some Black people) comes to stir up the pain in our bones, I penned a poem (modified from a poem written in honor of Korryn Gaines):
Before Hurricane Season Comes To Wash Her Away
Black women become trained assassins in the eyes of The Law
Don’t matter if they sleep or holding a controller for games with family
Just three days before, they were someone’s daughter
Just five days before, they were someone’s lover
Just seven days before, they were someone’s healer
And Black Women been healing all of us since forever
They stood in places that Black men refuse to access
Pleading for our bodies to be brought back from the dirtied basements of the courthouse cells
Standing in the places where our blood soaked into the cement
To us, they are gentle. They are roots. They are freedom.
I wonder if Breonna wanted to march for Ahmad’s murder
Did she know she would be the next victim?
Did her Black Woman senses tell her to prepare her home for departure
I wonder if the night she left, was she holding that man before he stood to protect her
I call Black women metaphorical grandmothers because they raise generations of children that have yet to be birthed into this nation
They are the water flowing up stems and leaves
They are the very foundation of homes built on love like cement
My Brothers, we have not carried their strength inside of us like we should and, quite frankly, we should be ashamed.
If flood waters come to my city, I will stand strong like Breonna.
I will not back down from rising tides
And though I have been safe this whole time, I feel as though this is a test of my character.
A test of what I am made of.
A test of what this woman who bore me was made of
And the woman before her
And the women Breonna saved as an EMT
These flood waters may try to come and wash away what these women built generations before us
But these waters forgot that their seeds were planted deep
These waters forgot that rose petals need a wash every now and then
These waters never knew that frontline fighters carry shields made of melanin-heavy skin
Thick as unbroken levees
I don’t see Black women for death threats and beaten down doors
Or sharing gunshots with their sons like a last meal
Or eating death off of a jail cell floor
Or hiding from warning shots out of their own guns
Or waiting for their fiancée to never walk the aisle
Or being as human and as alien as the folks who remain silent for their lives
They are stronger than the floodwaters reaching banks without invitation;
yet, as fragile as the millions of water droplets within
When Black women die, the news of another Black man being murdered should only add fuel to the fire. It should not stoke one in another yard and floodwaters in the south should not wash their names away like their bodies already became sand on the shore.
We are hunting for her murderers to be brought forth as sacrifices to our ancestors
We will not stop until they say to rest
Visit this website for direct actions to assist with saying Breonna’s name even louder.
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