Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery: Black Lives Matter

I’ve been struggling to find inspiration to write lately. I’ve dived face-first into video interviews and TikToks feeling too overwhelmed to put my thoughts and feelings into words. That was until I heard about the senseless murders of  Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. The more I learned about these cases the more I wanted to share that information with you along with other links and stories that I’ve been sitting on for months. Well, since Black History Month to be precise.

Don’t judge me! Like I said, I’ve been struggling with writing lately! But not only will this post help inform you on the cases of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. You’ll be inspired, educated, and entertained by some of the resources I share.

Netflix & Think

I’m obsessed with true crime and was excited when Netflix dropped Trial By Media earlier this week. It was an opportunity for me to dig into a few cases that were in the headlines before I was old enough to read. Like the case of the “Subway Vigilante” Bernhard Goetz who shot four black teens on a New York City subway in 1984 because he “thought” they were going to rob him.

I was outraged by the outcome of this case. But it’s the perfect reminder that as far as race relations, the U.S. has not changed much in the last 35 years. Which is why although I was horrified to hear about what happened to Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, I wasn’t surprised.

Stand for Breonna and Run with Ahmaud

In the last week we’ve learned about the murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Although both were killed months ago the public is just hearing of these cases. And as usual, no justice has been sought and it’s the responsibility of us, the public to bring attention to these cases before the justice system takes these murders seriously. In both cases the families are depending on voices and activists from the Black Lives Matter movement to first fight for acknowledgement and then justice for Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Breonna’s Story

Breonna Taylor was a 26 year old award-winning EMT and first responder in Louisville, KY. On the night of March 13th, 2020 the Louisville Metro Police executed a warrant and entered Breonna apartment looking for drugs. The drug trafficker they were looking for didn’t live there had been arrested earlier that day on the other side of town. 

Breonna’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker was with her in her apartment that night. He claims that the police didn’t announce themselves before trying to enter the apartment. So Walker, a registered gun owner shot at who he thought were intruders. Walker shot an officer in the leg. The police fired more than 20 bullets into the apartment, shooting Breonna 8 times and killing her.

Kenneth Walker, a registered gun owner I remind you, is being charged with first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer. The three officers involved in the case have been placed on administrative leave.

There has been little investigation into how the police conducted themselves. Just yesterday the Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said that the state’s attorney general and U.S. attorney should review the case, “because the fact are what the family deserves.” The Louisville Metro Police tried to sweep this case under the rug. None of the police officers were wearing body cams and they refuse to release the 911 call made by Taylor and Walker.  Walker claims that the terrified couple called 911 to report a possible home invasion burglary by unknown intruders.

The Racial Contract

The thing urking me the most is the fact that Kenneth Walker, a Black man and registered gun owner faces charges of first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer. Walker was arrested at the scene. On the contrary, the two white men, who also happen to be registered gun owners hunt down and murder Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight. Meanwhile it took over two months and the public release the murder video before these men were even arrested or charged!

Why? Because when white men fear for their lives seeing a Black man jogging through their neighborhood, it’s valid. On the contrary, the fear that Breonna and Kenneth felt when their apartment door was being kicked down is in question.

Do Something

Ahmaud’s case has been receiving nationwide coverage over the last week. For an up to date look on what’s happening with the case check here.  I wanted to breakdown Breonna’s case a bit more because it’s not getting the attention it deserves. If you want to join the fight for Breonna here are some ways to do that.

Sign this petition which is calling for arrests of the officers involved, for charges to be filed against them, and for her family to be paid in damages for wrongful death, as well as for Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to speak up on behalf of Taylor and to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Louisville Police Department.

Sign this petition which is calling for the three police officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, to be fired and for all charges against Kenneth Walker to be dropped immediately.

Black People Are Tired

Black people are so tired.
We can’t go jogging. (#AmaudArbery).
We can’t relax in the comfort of our own homes. (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson).
We can’t ask for help after being in a car crash. (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).
We can’t have a cellphone. (#StephonClark).
We can’t leave a party to get to safety. (#JordanEdwards).
We can’t play loud music. (#JordanDavis).
We can’t sell CD’s. (#AltonSterling).
We can’t sleep. (#AiyanaJones)
We can’t walk from the corner store. (#MikeBrown).
We can’t play cops and robbers. (#TamirRice).
We can’t go to church. (#Charleston9).
We can’t walk home with Skittles. (#TrayvonMartin).
We can’t hold a hair brush while leaving our own bachelor party. (#SeanBell).
We can’t party on New Years. (#OscarGrant).
We can’t get a normal traffic ticket. (#SandraBland).
We can’t lawfully carry a weapon. (#PhilandoCastile).
We can’t break down on a public road with car problems. (#CoreyJones).
We can’t shop at Walmart. (#JohnCrawford) .
We can’t have a disabled vehicle. (#TerrenceCrutcher).
We can’t read a book in our own car. (#KeithScott).
We can’t be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather. (#CliffordGlover).
We can’t decorate for a party. (#ClaudeReese).
We can’t ask a cop a question. (#RandyEvans).
We can’t cash our check in peace. (#YvonneSmallwood).
We can’t take out our wallet. (#AmadouDiallo).
We can’t run. (#WalterScott).
We can’t breathe. (#EricGarner).
We can’t live. (#FreddieGray).
We cant speak to a white girl. (#Emmittill)
We can’t have a dream. (#MartinLutherKing)
We’re tired. Tired of making hashtags. Tired of trying to convince you that our #BlackLivesMatter too. Tired of dying. So very tired.

Allies Align

So, now that you’re livid and ready to make a difference where do you start? The first step is to Stop Asking People Of Color To Explain Racism–Pick Up One Of These Books Instead. I agreed with so many of the things Rachel Garlinghouse said in this piece! Please check it out.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

There are many things that allies of all races can do for racial justice. My first suggestion is LISTEN. Listen when Black people talk about the injustices they are facing. Stop playing devil’s advocate. Don’t minimize their experiences. Don’t question why there are Legally Armed Black Citizens Patrol White Neighborhood Where Ahmaud Arbery Was Killed or use that to excuse his murder. Here are 20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community Right Now and 65 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice.

What Day and Month is it?

I originally started writing this post during Black History Month (I told you not to judge!). However when I hadn’t published by March I decided it would be a piece about Black Women. Months later I decided to combine it with the information on the murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Because Black Lives Matter and in order to see the light, there has to be darkness. Which resulted in the following links, stories, and photos that celebrate Black culture, Black businesses, and Black women.

As Black people we are still only in the beginning stages of seeing ourselves represented. Watching Michelle Obama’s documentary Becoming on Netflix was a reminder of how challenging it was being the first Black First Lady. Mariya Russell is the first black female chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant. Read more about her and The Pressures of Being First.

Photography by Nick Fochtman
Photo: Nickelodeon via Tumblr

Last year during Black History Month I told you that before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin would not move from hers. The first person arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for challenging bus segregation was Claudette. Here are another 30 Amazing Black People From Around The World That You Should Know.

Claudette Colvin

Claudette’s story always reminds me of how easily history can be rewritten. I was shook when I first learned of Claudette’s arrest because history is one of my favorite subjects and I knew nothing of her. So reading If Black History Month does not include LGBT+ people, it is not Black history reinforced the fact that Black History is whitewashed. “But as it stands, when Blackness is involved, straightness and cisness is, too. What this does is create an ahistorical approach to our history. It does a disservice to the richness and complexities that Blackness holds.” and I couldn’t agree with the author, Travis more. So I will do my part to seek out more of these stories.

Which makes it of equal importance that I share information on the Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2020.

Travel

Even though most of us are still staying home and staying safe, travel is on our mind. Many of us are planning and plotting our next great escape and why not plan to stay at one of the 10 Most Beautiful Black-Owned Hotels Around The World?

Counting down the days until you can escape into the great outdoors again? Check out these 22 Black Outdoor Instagram Accounts Inspiring People of Color to get Outside!

Get even more inspiration on what destination to visit next by listening to these 10 Incredible Travel Podcasts by Women of Color.

Celebrate Black Excellence

Previously I mentioned Michelle Obama’s Becoming documentary. In it she shares how she was told that she “wasn’t Princeton material.” by a high school college counselor. She indeed was Princeton material and graduated in 1985. This year is the first in Princeton’s 247 year history of having a Black valedictorian. Congratulations to Nicholas Johnson, the very first black valedictorian at Princeton University. It’s about time!

Photo by Lisa Festa

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