I was not surprised by the results of the grand jury in Breonna Taylor’s case. I have become quite numb to the events exhibiting the systemic racism in this country’s criminal justice system. This scared me. I do not want my numbness to become apathy. I had to do something.
A few hours after the news broke about Breonna Taylor’s case (yes, I said her name again) I decided to write a letter to local clergy in the predominately white city I live in. My goal was to bring a few clergy together, around city hall, to pray for peace and justice for all citizens, specifically my Black brothers and sisters. On Saturday, September 26, a national prayer march was planned at the nation’s capital and many others were planning marches around their own state capital and city hall buildings. I had recently participated in a march for justice only a few months earlier. I figured if I could march in protest, I could march in prayer.
I sent the letter to several predominately white churches, including one I have volunteered with over the years. I received only one response but I was encouraged. Though this pastor could not attend, he wanted to plan a meeting after Saturday. I went to my city hall early. 30 minutes after the scheduled time, only 3 people joined me. They were my neighbors who I had mentioned the event to in passing. We marched around the civic center and prayed for government, the end of police brutality and unity of our city’s citizens. It was a beautiful morning.
As the days have passed, I have begun to identify with Breonna Taylor in more ways besides our skin color. It has become clear how easily she could have been me. I thought about my brother’s past drug offenses. I remembered times when he hid cocaine in our home without my mother’s knowledge. Did our house ever come up as a possible place to raid? Had God protected me and my mother from the same fate? Why were we so lucky?
I have also thought about the white woman in Minnesota, killed by a Black police officer. That police officer was charged and convicted of manslaughter. I am forced to ask the difference between this woman and Breonna Taylor. I am forced to ask, “Does my life, as a Black woman…does it matter?”
I think my numbness is an attempt to protect me from the reality of the answer. But, I will not allow it to turn into apathy. I made the time to make a statement in prayer. We all can do something. Pray, protest, vote. Step out of your comfort zone and have the uncomfortable conversation; with your family, with your friends, with yourself. Just do something.