March 18, 2018, one week exactly after I turned 25, Stephon Clark, then and now forever 22 years old, was shot to death by Sacramento police officers.
He was shot in his grandmother’s backyard.
He was shot twenty times.
He was holding a cell phone.
In 2018, to be black and holding a cell phone in your grandmother’s backyard is a death sentence.
Just as in 2012, to be black and buying Skittles was a death sentence.
And in 1955, to be black and walking was a death sentence.
The first, first, museum dedicated to the memory of lynching victims in America is set to open in April of this year. Almost exactly 400 years since the first African slaves were brought to North America.
Death comes for us all, but to be black in America is to be vulnerable so much sooner, to tick off the years so much faster.
Many of the white people I grew up with, went to elementary school with or high school with or private liberal art school with, continue to ask the question “What about being white in America? Why is it always about race? Don’t I have problems?” Still, today, in 2018.
Once again, I find myself writing, that being white doesn’t mean you don’t have difficulties in your life. Being white doesn’t mean you are inherently evil. But being white and not opposing the continued discrimination against black and brown people is unacceptable. Ignoring the inherent stacking of the system, that the majority of our representatives are white (in congress right now 49 out 535 still making it “the most diverse in history”), that the majority of our stories and art and movies are created by and for white people, that we pay white people (specifically white men) more than any other demographic, ignoring all of this, is unacceptable.
We are not born into a vacuum. We are not born on “an equal playing field”. We are born into a system that was built to be unfair. We were born to right these injustices. But if we are born black there is a high likelihood that we won’t live long enough to see these wrongs addressed.
Because if you are born black in the United States you may be shot in your grandmother’s backyard for holding a cell phone.
So once again I am writing to invoke reality, to reaffirm what we as white people forget or are too ashamed to say, that black lives matter.
Black children matter.
Black parents matter.
Black women matter.
Black trans people matter.
Black men matter.
Black art matters.
Black culture matters.
Black movies matter.
Black politicians matter.
Black history matters.
Black writers matter.
Black non-binary folk matter.
Black interracial people matter.
Black communities matter.
Black lives matter.
Stephon Clark matters.