ONE YEAR ON: WHY SAY HER NAME?

I was thinking about Breonna Taylor yesterday.

It’s been a year since the police killed her and those responsible have yet to be brought to justice.

In case anyone’s wondering, justice _was_ delivered for the damages caused by the bullets hitting the neighbour’s wall.

But not for the bullets that had forced their way through the body of a young black EMT who was committing no crime in her own home.

As seen in the photo, seven months after her death in Louisville, KY – people were still trying to symbolically execute this young woman.

I know there are many conspiracy theories around Breonna’s death (and honestly, that seems to be the biggest export of the US right now) – but I’m not buying any of it.

The lives of Black people in the US are still undervalued.

A single Black-Asian woman as the current VP does not change that.

Be aware that tokenistic representation at the levels of political office does not always translate to substantive representation at the ground level.

I thought about sharing a meme, writing a post.

I was wondering if there was any real utility in doing so – till my answer arrived.

Let me clarify first that in no way am I making equivalences of pain or suffering. I’m explaining the process of understanding _why_ ‘ Saying Her Name’ is so important.

I was in my garden, and I said hello to my neighbours (who admittedly have not been very neighbourly as of late). Immediately my neighbour looked shocked and said: Oh! I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so all I saw was a ‘ black man.’

And she laughed nervously.

In my silence, she knew she had crossed a line as she was using my skin tone to make a cheap joke.

Deadpan, I quipped: Brown, you mean brown.

She changed the subject quickly.

Black is what I would use to refer to someone who was of more direct African descent unless they found it offensive for some reason. I usually refer to myself as brown to indicate my Tamil descent.

Though these are lines are nonsense when you remember we came from One Source.

I make the differentiation to recognize and validate the different experiences that we have had rather than as a means of division.

‘Enlightened’ erasure in the name of spiritual unity is as bad, if not worse, than garden-variety denial.

Unfortunately, in many countries – be in the West, or Asia, or even parts of Africa and India –

Blackness is seen as a joke, a threat, a reason to be feared, shamed and targeted. Sometimes literally.

I remember lighter-skinned Chinese kids in my childhood being unwilling to sit down next to me because they thought the brown skin would rub off on them. Or them calling me ‘ Blackie’ – as a way to make themselves feel better that I used to be get the highest marks in class ‘ despite’ being an Indian girl. It wasn’t meant in a friendly way and many such instances made for a harsh childhood. I had to switch classrooms every years as the teachers refused to believe that an Indian girl was smarter than their Chinese students.

Honestly – it’s not as simple as fair vs. dark – I’ve seen dark-skinned people of Indian descent use the image of the black African as a means of ridicule. I usually had that projected on me and did not understand why it was even funny. I saw the same behavior in the US, the UK, Germany, India just about anywhere I went.

Racism and colorism is found wherever the moral virtue of fairness is transposed unto the canvas of lighter-hued skin.

Whilst that particular microaggression today was absolutely – in no way comparable – to being shot at and killed, it reminded me why it’s essential to talk about Breonna.

And so many who have been unjustly killed or harmed through no fault of their own.

Because there are millions, if not billions, of us who can speak to that story in some form. Admittedly with far less dire consequences.

It’s not just Breonna Taylor, Elijah McCain, Tony McDade, Jacob Blake, Atatiana Jefferson, and so many others. Not to forget George Floyd – it’s ironic that the legislative act that bears his name would not have actually prevented his death.

That’s literally one country where all of that (and so much more) have just happened in the past year.

When you think about the scope of it worldwide – over generations – it is staggering.

Still – growing up with the scars of racial abuse is no picnic.

Society has tried its best to indoctrinate brown and black kids to believe that their skin’s darker shade meant that they were somehow disfigured or stained or worthless.

Or that it was okay for them to be targeted, sometimes quite literally.

That insidious idea finds its way to authorities and institutions of power and governance.

You see it in –

The judge sentencing a black teenager to life imprisonment for defending herself despite sparing a young, white, rich rapist the consequences of his actions.

The legislator opposing more transparent policing acts and protocols.

The police officer receiving training to see blackness as a threat and denying that such bias exists.

The person on the street defending the status quo.

It’s all related; it’s all connected.

Breonna’s story is her own, but it evokes such deep emotions. And for good reason.

The more we keep telling our stories as a means of processing and validating our experiences – we make it a little easier for the next intended victim of racial gaslighting and systemic discrimination to recognize what’s happening to them. And that it isn’t okay.

Though I remain critical of privilege built through colonial conquest – it is crucial to recognize fragments of that same story in what’s playing out with Meghan Markle and the British royalty.

More will come forward.

More will speak.

And I hope the world listens.

Blessings,

Dr Bairavee The Sky Priestess


TERMS AND USE OF SHARING

This post and text are original research material and are copyrighted. You can share this material for personal, non-commercial, and educational use with proper citations, references, and links/tags back to my website / Instagram / Youtube. Clicking ‘Share’ or ‘Reblog’ would be most appropriate. This material is not to be used for your your workshop, blog, organization, webpage, book, seminar, or for any commercial purpose without obtaining my prior consent. Anything communicated here is not intended to replace professional legal, medical, psychological, psychiatric, or financial counsel. How you choose to act on this information is up to your own free will and you agree to be responsible for whatever consequences arise from your actions. Use your common sense first.

Text © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2021. All rights reserved.

Image of Breonna Taylor, Wave 3 News. Fair use policy.

6 thoughts on “ONE YEAR ON: WHY SAY HER NAME?

  1. Fran Murrell says:

    I’m exhausted with the injustice and unfairness I see all around me and I’m one of the super privileged ones: an older, white middle class woman who’s married with adult children. I feel life would be far richer and happier if everyone was allowed to blossom as much as possible. I’m so sorry to hear your story Dr Bairavee. It is hideous that so many people of colour are killed just because someone is scared of the idea of them. Even when they are asleep in their own bed. We white people have some deranged ideas. It must take a lot of energy to be a person of colour in this crazy society. Energy better spent being who and what you came here to be. This centuries long culture of interwoven injustices and falsehoods must be dismantled.

    Reply
  2. sky blue says:

    The Goddess was Black, y’all…………………-Luisah Teish

    Reply
  3. Pam Ford says:

    Thank you for writing all of this. I live about 2 hours from where she was murdered. The thing that gets me is that there was justice for the house the bullets went through but not for Breonna whose body was riddled with bullets I’ll keep writing the leadership and sharing her story as we are all connected.

    Reply
  4. Aeyrie says:

    It makes me sad to read pieces like this. There have been too many of them. It saddens me to see how we can be so thoughtless and hurtful each other. I would like to share a happy memory with you…

    Allow me to tell you a story about my brother and me when we were children. My mother, being also a busy nurse, hired a lady named Inez to come once every two weeks to help her keep her house picked up. We would eagerly climb into the car with mom to drive across our small town to pick Inez up and bring her to our house. We always enjoyed looking at everything as we passed by.

    One day, just as Inez was just finishing cleaning a big window and I sat nearby talking with her (and being a budding Virgo) helping her as needed my little brother wandered up. With his typical sunny three year old grin he asked, “Inez, how come God made you chocolate?” Being 5 years older I held my breath, I was already aware in those days that this could turn out to be an uncomfortable moment.

    Spontaneously, something occurred to me. So like my little brother I also blurted out what was on my mind. ‘Well, maybe He is like me. Maybe he likes chocolate too!” Surprised, Inez looked from one to the other of us. Then her face slowly broke into a wide grin. To my great relief, because I loved Inez, she began to laugh with delight. Inez had such an infectious laugh. She pulled both of us to her bosom and gave us both a big hug and planted a kiss on each of our cheeks. “You two are such a blessing! You just made my day.” It warmed my heart that Inez was happy. My brother squirmed out of her arms and ran off to play while Inez and I smiled at each other, picked up the cleaning supplies and moved on to the next window.

    I was brought up to believe that we are all precious in His sight and loved beyond measure no matter what color He has made us. Many decades later I still know and believe that. It is my fervent prayer that we will all know that in our hearts one day. Soon, I hope! Thank you for all you do, Dr. Bairavee. Your wisdom and experience is so appreciated. You also are a blessing! <3

    Reply
  5. Oré says:

    Thanks for remembering and writing. May her spirit find rest and peace

    Reply

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