TW: racism, murder, police brutality, family separation, sexual assault and abuse.
Amid this week’s wave of protests across the country for Black Lives Matter, we’re left remembering the anniversaries of Emmett Till’s and Elijah McClain’s deaths, both falling in the same week. These weekly traumas from systemic failures that are carried out by law enforcement groups blatantly show us — they don’t care about Black and Brown youth. The question isn’t only “how do we handle this?” but it’s also “how do our kids cope, let alone understand, this?”
As it is, POC folx are predisposed to many health issues, including intergenerational trauma. But to even begin to heal, we must become aware of our history to understand our current systems of oppression. To heal, we need to do these things together and piece ourselves, our children and our community together.
Black Lives Matter
Emmett Till would still be alive today. This week in 1955, Emmett was accused of whistling at a white woman— who is still alive today, btw— at a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. A few days later, Emmett faced a pair of angry white men who brutally murdered him. At 14 years old. Let us remind you, the woman who accused Emmett waited over 60 years to tell the truth. The system that should have protected this child, failed Emmett and let him die.
Elijah McClain would also be alive today. On this week in August of last year, a call came into the Aurora Police Department reporting a “suspicious person in a ski mask.” Elijah was just walking home from a convenience store for a cold iced tea for his brother, when he was approached by three police officers. In those 15 minutes, Elijah was accused of “resisting arrest” and placed in a chokehold that ultimately ended his life. Even as the state of Colorado has mandated body cameras and ban chokeholds by cops, Elija’s parents have filed a federal lawsuit against Aurora police officers and the paramedics involved in his death. The lawsuit demands accountability “for the profound loss of a beautiful soul,” and sends “a resounding message that racism and brutality have no place in American law enforcement.”
Right now, we’re in the midst of yet another brutality at the hands of police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake is still in the hospital after being shot in the back seven times. While Blake’s father said that his son Jacob is now paralyzed from the waist down, the Blake family will forever live with the trauma of this moment. Jacob’s three kids, sat in the backseat and witnessed their father being shot.
Not only will the Till family, McClain family, Blake Family and and who has lost a family member will forever live this trauma, they will go on with no access or resources for their healing.
Brown Lives Matter
Right now, there are hundreds of children in concentration camps (oh, we mean detention centers). There are hundreds more being kept in hotel rooms across the country. Not only have they travelled thousands of miles to find solace away from the violence in their own country, they go through another series of traumas that come from poor conditions and mistreatments within their confinements.
Through travelling the long treacherous route to safety, many kids are separated from their groups or caregivers. Last year alone, over 200 kids were separated once they reached the border. In reflecting on our own lives, many of us can clearly remember when we were younger, momentarily losing our parents in the grocery store or in public. Even though that was long ago, it’s a traumatic memory — and that’s just the case for migrant children.
Just last year there were six children who died in immigration custody, including Felipe Gomez Alonzo,8, Jakeline Caal Maquin,7, and Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez,16. Today, countless reports about horrendous conditions including overcrowding, extremely cold temperatures, inadequate or nonexistent health care experienced within the centers in neighboring states of Arizona and Texas. In addition to poor conditions, over four thousand cases of sexual abuse from women and children within detention centers in the last four years.
Right to [whose] Life?
While organizations all over the country and state — *cough*, Alliance for Life, New Mexico Right to Life Committee, Family Police Alliance *cough* — say they care about “all lives”, it seems that they care about control. Through abortion bans, birth control restrictions and defunding our access to reproductive health resources, there is an obvious passion for power and control over womxn’s bodies.
Our point? We’d love to know whose kids they cherish. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
The truth is that while we can always uplift ways to donate and demand justice and highlight a Community Healing Guide, we need to build up our minds and our communities as well. We can find ways of protecting each other through grassroots programs like community fridges, gardens and pantries. We can arm ourselves with knowing our rights and make sure our kids know theirs.
Talk to your kids about race and racism. We must teach our children that these systems set in place do a lot of harm. Hug your children and explain to them that no one is illegal so long as we all live on this earth.
We must teach them, and believe ourselves, that when we say voting can really change things, that we all have to come together and work to make real changes. (And make sure that you’re registered and active in voting!)
Keep taking your pain and your passion to the streets and commit yourself to anti-racist work. Continue to demand justice for every life not lived fully and every life held in captivity, but take time to breathe and practice mindfulness.
Most of all, make sure to be kind, patient and empower our children, because we do care about their futures.