“Travis is dead,” I still remember receiving the phone call from my mom announcing that my cousin Travis had just been added to the list of growing African American men who had been shot at the hands of local police. Over the years, stories have been varied from eye witnesses as many have said that Travis had a gun while others said the gun may have been planted in order to justify the shooting. Whatever the case may be Travis’ life had been ended at the mere age of 23. Suddenly my entire family had one answer, why? Was Travis perfect? Absolutely not and no one is. Did Travis deserve to be shot and killed right in front of those he loved the most? No but his story is no different from hundreds of others.
Over the last several years, it has become a normal part of society to log onto social media and know that if you see a name trending it’s probably because he or she had been shot and killed by local police. In fact, the statistics are even more disturbing than the actual hashtags. Since 2017 has began over 189 black men and women have been killed at the hands of police and yet the only way these people are memorialized is through a hashtag. This leaves many of us to wonder do black lives even matter.
As an African American woman who is a wife, daughter, a sister and aunt to African American men I often worry every time one of the men in my life ventures outside the doors of my home. None of them have criminal records nor do any of them engage in activities that would warrant in sort of confrontation with the police and yet I am fearful. I am fearful because I recognize that every black man in my life is one wrong word and one bad day from being shot by police because of the color of their skin.
Over the years I have had countless people ask me what they can do as non African Americans to raise awareness around the Black Lives Matter movement and if I’m completely honest there’s really not much you can do.
For so long it has been graphed into American society that black lives don’t matter and because of this it has been hard to erase the negative connotations often associated with those of African American decent. To make matters worst in recent months, the Black Lives Matter movement has been received a large amount of scrutiny by political officials who have been falsely led to believe that the Black Lives Matter movement was essentially a hate group. It’s not. Black Lives Matter was created to raise awareness and awareness is what will ultimately save lives.