For Philando, Nabra and Charleena

Friday afternoon, a verdict of “not guilty” was announced. Officer Jeronimo Yanez walked out of Minneapolis courthouse a free man on Friday, 11 short months after murdering Philando Castile. Phil (as he was known) was killed in a traffic stop when his fiancée, Diamond, was pulled over. Yanez approached the vehicle. Phil disclosed that he had a license to carry and asked permission to grab his wallet from his pocket. After he was granted permission, Yanez fired seven shots into Phil’s body.

It was captured via Facebook Live feed.

Phil and Diamond’s 4 year old daughter was in the back seat.

I’m told you can hear her comforting her mother as she cries. I wouldn’t know because I’m not set up to watch people murdered.

This past Sunday was Father’s Day. The first for Diamond and her baby without Phil. I imagine it was difficult for them, for his mother too, who vented on Facebook Live on Friday, the same medium where her son’s murder was recorded. She did not call for peace. She was outraged, heartbroken. What mother wouldn’t be? After your child is killed, you’re told to wait for justice and it never comes?

An officer in fear of their life will always mean more than Black lives.

This is just weeks after Betty Shelby, the officer who murdered Terence Crutcher, walked free of all charges.

Sunday was Father’s Day. By Sunday evening, my Facebook feed was ablaze with anger and heartache about Nabra Hassanen and Charleena Lyles.

17 year old Nabra was leaving an all night prayer session yesterday morning with a group of friends when they were targeted by Darwin Martinez Torres. He approached the group of teens and after they ran to seek refuge at their mosque, realized Nabra was no where in sight. Her body was found later in the day near a pond.

30 year old Charleena Lyles had called the Seattle Police earlier this month during a domestic dispute with her ex-boyfriend. She called again on Sunday to report that her house had been robbed. When police showed up, they claim she had a knife and they shot her, in front of her 3 children. Reports from friends and family in say that she was 3 months pregnant.

Its really hard to function carrying all of this. Its hard that so few people are taking about this, that so few are outraged, that these things keep happening. That we are told to keep calm and wait for justice. Justice won’t bring them back. Justice won’t heal the hearts, families, and communities shattered from the losses. They could be anyone I know. They could be me.

What happens to the children who watched their parents be shot in front of them? While white parents (and anyone else who believes American Dream bullshit) are teaching their kids that cops are safe, helpers, protectors, our children are seeing close up that they kill their parents “because they were afraid”. They kill them and their friends “because they were afraid”.

I am afraid. My friends, my village, we are all afraid of being next.

Carrying this collective Black grief of knowing multiple innocent people were killed because they were Black. A woman and a girl. A mom after she called for help. A girl after leaving her mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. I’m supposed to be glad, lucky I’m alive and have a job to go to and my health and all that, but the thing about collective Black grief is that you never stop grieving for people you don’t know. Every time you see their face or hear their name, you’re triggered into a state of sadness, helplessness, fear, anger.

And that’s exactly why they used to make other enslaved people watch as our families were sold away, whipped, mutilated and lynched. To help you remember your place. To help you remember that this could be you too if you don’t follow the rules they lay out. The trick is, you can follow the rules to the letter and still end up dead and no one carrying blame except the victim.

Click here to donate to a fund set up for Charleena’s children.

Click here to donate to a fund set up for Nabra’s family.

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