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