The Day I Was Reminded
While anxiously waiting to hear evidence that I lived in a just and fair society, I listened intently to the Attorney General of Kentucky who had just taken his position behind the podium to begin a news conference. He wasn’t talking fast enough, and he seemed to have an introduction he was moving through methodically. I remember I froze when AG Cameron finally announced that only one officer, Brett Hankinson, would be charged. At that moment, I was reminded the most neglected person in America is the Black woman. Daniel Cameron, the AG of Kentucky, neglected to bring the appropriate charges on behalf of an innocent Black woman, and I felt speechless.
I forced myself back to reality and replayed the words just spoken, in my head. “Brett Hankinson would be charged”.
Okay, so one officer is getting charged, I reasoned with myself, but for what?
That is when I heard the phrase “wanton endangerment”. I was initially confused— wanton endangerment? The real crime here was that an innocent Black woman was gunned down in the privacy of her own home. I waited and waited, hoping that the verdict would not be permanent; something had to change. Nothing. Again, I was reminded the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. In the state of Kentucky, an innocent Black woman was left unprotected as she lay murdered in her home. Yet her neighbors who experienced stray bullets that grazed their apartments were protected under law.
Moments after, my phone was filled with texts from my friends, family, and peers. We were all angry and hurt. Not knowing how to move forward, we asked ourselves, what can we do? We all felt defeated. Three white men, Brett Hankinson, Jonathan Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove were going to get away with murdering an innocent Black woman. As I repeated their names in my head, I was reminded that the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.
Breonna Taylor had dreams and plans for her future. Dreams of starting a family, advancing her career, and growing old with the person she loved—at 26, Breonna Taylor’s life was just beginning. Like many other Black women, those dreams were stripped from her in an instant. Let’s not forget Oluwatoyin Salau. A 19-year-old Black woman passionate about advocating for Black lives. She was brave enough to speak up about being sexually assaulted and was found dead shortly after. Or Sandra Bland. A 28-year-old Black woman who was also involved with the Black Lives Matter Movement was arrested during a traffic stop. She was found dead in a jail cell. These women, and several others, deserved to be protected. They deserved better.
Society has deemed the life of a Black woman as worthless and less than. Unfortunately, time has not seemed to change much, and Breonna Taylor’s murder was another case that confirmed that.
Yet, through her death, Breonna Taylor has touched the hearts of many. Her image was placed on the cover of Vogue, t-shirts, painted on roads and buildings. The name Breonna Taylor was seen all over social media and her story sparked an international movement that brought awareness to the treatment of Black women.
I want to mention that I still have not fully processed the fact that Hankinson got charged for the people he did not harm, yet when it came to the Black woman who was killed in her own home, he was off the hook. But should I be surprised?
Despite the circumstances, I have grown to realize the power, beauty, and strength that we, Black women, are naturally born with. We are resilient beyond measure. An light that can never be dimmed.
REPORTER: Lauren Lennon
THE CITY, Gravity Magazine, 2020