March 13, 2022, marked the second anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor — a 26-year-old Black woman murdered in her home by the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD). Many people have reached out to me for my thoughts on what I believe we have gained in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death and the subsequent protests in Louisville during 2020.
It is an interesting way to frame the question, “What have we gained?” This question is often asked by people who do not look like me. People were never concerned about the police forcefully entering their homes, people who do not worry every time a police officer drives behind them. People who aren’t concerned that a minor traffic stop could have life or death consequences. People who exist in a different Louisville than I or someone like Breonna ever did. The question makes me think of Professor Blyden Jackson’s statement in “Life Behind A Veil:” “Through a veil, I could perceive the forbidden city, the Louisville where white folks lived. It was the Louisville of the downtown hotels, the lower floors of the big movie houses, the high schools I read about in the daily newspapers, the restricted haunts I sometimes passed, like white restaurants and country clubs, the other side of windows in the banks, and of course the inner sanctums of offices where I could go only as a client or a menial custodian. On my side of the veil, everything was Black: the homes, the people, the churches, the schools, the Negro park with the Negro park police…I knew that were two Louisvilles and, in America, two Americas. I knew also which America was mine.” After the tragic death of Breonna Taylor and the war-like tactics in response to the protests, Louisville has made it abundantly clear which Louisville is mine.
Louisville has reminded me that it is yet another city in the long line of cities where the lives of Black women are expendable. This city has reminded me that Black women will be asked to labor to transform this city with little to no reward. Daily, I am reminded that leaders will ask for our labor, disregarding the laborious undertaking that Black women shoulder trying to right a city that still refuses to face the historical and current ramifications of racism. How many times must Black women fix it — often at the expense of ourselves. When I wrote “Breonna Taylor: Say Her Name,” I said, “I have to march for you not to kill me. And now you are asking me to teach you how not to kill me.” And now, in 2022, you are asking me what we have gained? I will never forget that Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said, “For her, every day is March 13.” Every. Single. Day. So how do I look at her and tell her what we have gained?Read More ›