To be honest, I don’t have much to share today.
Last week Tuesday I was sitting high on the earth because my heart was so full! I realized that I loved this place in life that God had me experiencing and I was beyond grateful for His blessings. Photography was going well, my job was rewarding, my love life was blooming- all seemed too wonderful to adequately describe. And then Wednesday happened. Over 190 days after her murder, Breonna Taylor received no legal justice as her murders were not charged in their crimes. In fact, one murderer was only brought up on charges for the discharged bullets that missed Breonna. Our justice system showed its flaws once again.
As cited from Kentucky state statue, someone is “guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.”
Her life has stolen from her and the only charge on the table is for the bullets that did not hit her. By only offering wanton endangerment, the district attorney is saying that Breonna’s life did not matter, but it is more important to note that the murder recklessly fired shots into a home. I wrestled with this all week. I prayed and cried over this all week. I spent money on more merchandise to encourage justice and voting. And then I cried some more. In fact, on Wednesday night I was too afraid to go to sleep for fear that I would be the next Breonna Taylor. It seems like a stretch but she was just a Black woman asleep in her home when police intruded and stole her life. So, it is a possible reality for me… and that thought terrified me.
#[Insert your name]
Nine years ago I left Baltimore City and moved to Frederick, Maryland because I feared that I would become a statistic. There was one week in June 2011 that I logged onto Facebook and saw a RIP status posted for someone who had been murdered in the city. Seven days, at least seven posts. And I was tired. I was so tired that I immediately started looking for jobs in both Frederick and Port St. Lucie, FL because I had a sister in each city and I was ready to leave. When the job offer from Frederick came in, I packed my stuff and moved west. It was time, I believed; so I left. Now imagine my “surprise” nine years later when I see that my odds of becoming a statistic may have decreased with the western move, but my odds for becoming a Hashtag have increased.
In this social media driven society that we live in now, we attach hashtags (yes, the former POUND symbol) to words so that topics trend and people can easily join in with common ideals. Even if you don’t use social media, you can Google many hashtags and read relevant information about the hashtags and be brought up to speed with all that is happening. Right now, if you Google #BreonnaTaylor you will find over 39 million results, populated in about 0.71 seconds. Her name is being uttered around the world… and it only cost her her life. As much as I want my name to be heard around the world, I’d rather have my life and loved ones than fame or infamy.
On Friday morning when I rose, my head was all over the place. I was processing the state of the country, mentally and physically preparing to photograph a wedding on Saturday, asking God to help me heal from family pain, and embracing day one of my cycle… all while sitting in high school classes for my day job. My head swirls right now just recalling where my mind was on Friday. But as I briefly look back, I think of a purchase that I made on Friday morning. I was getting yet another mask for my boyfriend (sidebar, who thought we would need to buy custom masks?) and I stumbled upon two masks that caught my attention. One mask said FREEDOM and the other said JUSTICE. I knew that I didn’t need another mask, but I wanted to support the cause and I had to decide which mask meant more to me. Making one of my daily 35,000 choices, I opted for JUSTICE.
I loved the FREEDOM mask but opted for the JUSTICE mask because freedom is not something that can be truly given on this earth. I have to balance things out in my head and heart in some way. With all that is happening in this world, I have to believe that somethings are beyond our limited control and solely rest in the hands of God. Well, Freedom is that thing. In the Bible we read so many times about how God gives freedom, how we are set free in Him. If He says that so often, I can only assume that Freedom is found in Him, not in earthly people or things. So I cry out to God- not man, the government, or the like- for freedom and trust that He will grant my heart’s desire.
As a Black woman in America, I realize that the justice system was not created for me. All men were not created equally because Black people, especially Black women, were not included in that “all men.” Black people, especially Black women, were not included in the “all” when it was written, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As it has been so eloquently stated (true source is unknown), a system cannot fail those that it was never designed to protect. I looked at the mask and realized that that was what I needed to fight for; that would be the focus of my fight. To me, justice doesn’t mean having a leg up on someone else, it simply means that all are equally represented in and protected by the laws that exist. Justice to me means equally holding people accountable for the crimes that are committed against Black people. Justice means due process. Justice means peace.