Part of my series commemorating those whose lives have been lost to police brutality and anti-black violence.
Joshua Brown. It’s easy to forget names in the midst of life’s busyness. In the near constant barrage of tragedies and traumas of daily life. The names that only come to your knowledge because of the public tragedy attached. The ever-growing list of names to remember, lives we don’t want to forget.
Joshua was killed in his apartment parking lot 10 days after testifying against Botham Jean’s killer, the timing of which seems far too coincidental to be an accident. Many who take part in seeking justice have ended up being killed for it, and too often, black men and women have borne the brunt of that punishment.
When people speak of white privilege, they are not saying “I think all white people are rich”. They are speaking of things like this. The inherent privilege (advantage) of being able to expect safety in your own home. Of trusting that a call to the police will result in you being helped. Of being able to own or even hold a gun and never fear that anyone assumes nefarious motives. Of trusting that your murder would be taken seriously and the perpetrator punished accordingly.
I know that none of the devastation and helplessness that I feel holds a candle to what her family and black Americans as a whole must feel. The pain, fear, rage of so many who have yet another item in the long list of things that cannot safely be done “while black”. Things I have never had to give a second thought to. Walking home. Selling loose cigarettes. Playing at the park. Holding a toy gun. Sit in your own home. How many people cannot feel safe even in their OWN HOME?
We need to do better. We need to train better. We need to expect better. If the issue is training, why aren’t we implementing serious training reforms in law enforcement? If the issue is a “few bad apples”, why aren’t those bad apples being eradicated before they murder people (most have a documented history of problematic behavior and speech)? Why are entire departments lying for, covering for, planting evidence for, and continually enabling those bad apples? If racism is such a serious thing that most everyone gets unbelievably angry at even the mention of such a word directed at them, why don’t we actually take racism and racist acts seriously?
We, as a country, need to actually square up and deal with the horrors of our racist past and the ways that has continued to today. It cannot be left in the past because it is not the past. It is our present and will continue into our future if we do not consciously and intentionally tear down the systems and mindsets upholding oppression.
No matter who was behind it, his is a name worth remembering. His was a life taken too soon, from family, friends, children, and everything his future might have held. We remember you, Joshua Brown.