Op-Ed: One should have been enough

In+Manhattan%2C+New+York+City%2C+lies+a+Black+Lives+Matter+sticker+in+the+subway+for+people+to+see.%0AAll+photos+on+Unsplash.com+are+relicensed+for+reuse.+

Danny G from unsplash.com

In Manhattan, New York City, lies a Black Lives Matter sticker in the subway for people to see. All photos on Unsplash.com are relicensed for reuse.

By Nyah Fernandez, Archer School for Girls

How many black people need to be beaten for the system to change for black lives to matter in the world? How many innocent lives need to be lost for this to stop happening? I find myself asking these questions as I see one after another black person’s life be taken like it was nothing. History has continuously shown many instances where a black life seemed to be unimportant and less than.

The fact that we live in a society where black people are only seen by the color of their skin and not by the content of their character is truly devastating. The following stories are of black people who wrongly had their life taken away from them.

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was 32 years old when he was shot and killed in his car by a police officer Jeronimo Yanez, in front of his girlfriend and his little girl as he was reaching for his wallet.

On Feb. 23, 2020, Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, 25 years-old African American was shot while simply jogging near his own home. Arbery had been followed and then later shot by two white residents, Travis McMichael and his father Gregory McMichael.

On May 26, 2020, George Floyd was 46 years old when his life was taken by a white police officer. Floyd screamed, “I cannot breathe”, “my stomach hurts”, “everything hurts” and “they are going to kill me” as the officer pinned him down for several minutes with his knee down on his neck. Floyd died shortly after. He was murdered in broad daylight.

This particular recent case of police brutality sparked outrage in many community members and leaders for seeing such a horrific action being committed that lead to the officer’s termination. Protests, riots and call-to-action posts on social media have already occurred. Officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao and two other officers who were present were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. But that’s where it ends? Termination? In this day and age though, a white officer getting away with not serving jail time, despite taking an innocent black person’s life is unacceptable.

This is only a sliver of the innocent black lives that have been taken. The fact that this is a common thing to see on the news or social media is unreal. The fact that this is normal in our society is unreal.

An example is my cousin, Kevin O’Mally, Jr. He is 22 years old and serves our country as a sailor in the Navy and I could not be more proud of him. He makes a huge sacrifice for this country, yet he lives in a constant state of fear. He is one of the most inspirational figures in my life and to think that there are certain people who will judge him not by his accomplishments, but by the color of his skin, is disgusting.  This truly hurts my heart. Almost every day a black life has been taken. When is it going to stop? The heartbreaks, the anger, the sadness and the devastation. The fact that black families have to live in constant fear of seeing their child dead on the news because of the color of their skin is horrible. When will it be enough to make a change happen?

People want to spread awareness around the world, reposting tweets, pictures, videos and articles but half of the people that post these things don’t realize the harm that is being done to Black Lives Matter movement.  The fact that the killing of an innocent black life is now normalized to my generation is unspeakable and not right. Almost everyday, watching videos on social media and the news about another black life being taken is despairing and sorrowful to watch.

Don’t just repost pictures because it is trendy, but repost to spread awareness. Take the time out of your day to read about what has happened to these innocent black people. Remember their names. Do not just let this be another forgotten black person, but let this motivate you to stand up and take action.

Don’t shy away from the hard and uncomfortable topics about race but instead learn about it and feel comfortable to bring it up in your classroom, to your friends, family and even your community.

I won’t apologize for speaking my truth. This is my story. This is my reality. And this is our fight.

This story was originally published on The Oracle on May 31, 2020.