Opinion: Black Lives Matter, we’re tired of being killed

AuJenee Hirsch, Contributor

What does it mean to be black while living in America? Three brief sentences my cousin said during a conversation we had the other day explains it perfectly.

“Why should the color of my skin matter? I just want to live and be happy…We’re living in modern day slavery.”

Oppressed, distressed and put down at every opportunity when we find success. That is what it means to be black while living in America. 

On Monday, May 25, George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white — now former — Minneapolis police officer, when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. At the end of the video Floyd was unresponsive, and later pronounced dead at the hospital.

When I first heard about the news of Floyd’s death, I was outraged because another black man was killed over something so trivial. He was killed over a counterfeit $20 bill he may or may not have known was fake. It wasn’t something he needed to lose his life over.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video at first, but I felt I owed it to my fellow African Americans to see with my own eyes how the police had murdered another of our own.

“I can’t breathe,” Floyd told the officers multiple times in the video while bystanders pleaded with them to get off his neck.

Pissed doesn’t even begin to describe how deep my anger ran. But watching this man die isn’t what broke my heart; it was when he cried out for his mother in his final moments of life.

I am currently six months pregnant with my first child — my son — a future black man. Although I haven’t met my son yet, I can’t help but feel as though that could have my unborn child under Chauvin’s knee.

I felt my heart break for Floyd’s mother as she couldn’t be there to save her son’s life. Then I started to not only weep for her, but all the other mothers who have lost their children due to police brutality and racism in America. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and so many more.

I want to thank everyone out there on the front lines of these protests fighting for our lives because not only are you fighting to protect black lives right now, but most importantly to me, you’re fighting for my son’s future — and for that I’m forever grateful.

When people say “All Lives Matter,” it’s a slap in the face to black people. How can all lives matter until black lives matter? If a black person is lying in the street dying and you have a cold, you expect the doctor to treat you first — that’s your white privilege talking. 

Your white privilege will get you things no person of color will EVER get. You will always be treated better, be first to get a good paying job, be able to walk down the street and not have to worry about getting shot by complete strangers judging you, just because you’re a melanated king or queen.

I’m proud to be black and I stand with everyone out there protesting my people being killed.

A lot of people think this movement is about whites versus blacks, when in reality it’s about everyone versus racists. It’s about justice being served when it needs to be served. I firmly believe that if Floyd’s death hadn’t been recorded, Chauvin and the other three officers would not have received any punishment and Floyd would have been just another black man “justifiably” killed by the police.

Right now, Chauvin is being charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. That’s not enough. Floyd’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe weren’t enough to keep him from dying, so why is this former police officer being let off so easy? Black men have been given worse sentences for far lesser crimes.

The justice system does not see people of color and white people equally. The justice system has taken so many black lives throughout the years and we’re tired of it. 

Black people and our allies can’t take the deaths and injustice anymore because black lives matter too.

 

This editorial was submitted by AuJenee Hirsch, the former editor-in-chief of The Oakland Post from 2018-2019, and the first black woman to be EIC of The Oakland Post.