I can vividly recall sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car, en route to Chicago to run the marathon the next day, when my cell phone rang. It was an old college friend who I thought was calling to catch up, but instead she was calling to notify me that one of our closest friends lost both her parents on the same day. We were only 27.
I sat in complete silence in the backseat of the car where I could see my parents buying snacks inside the store and filling up gas at a gas station in a small Illinois town. I hung up the phone and I couldn’t believe the news. My friend was probably one of the most family-oriented people I knew and my heart cracked at the pain she must have been feeling.
When I found out the news, I called her, but we weren’t able to connect for a few days. I was young and had never experienced loss, and when we finally connected all I could fumble out was the dumb question of “How are you?” We chatted for a few minutes–and being the kind person she is–she did her best to not make it about her (this is how she always is-even in her darkest moment, she wanted to ask me about the marathon).
My parents were heading back home the following Sunday and I was trying to figure out logistics of how to get from Chicago to her hometown. I asked my Dad what to do, and he said, “Remember, you can go tomorrow and be there for her, but remember to be there for her next week, next year, and 10 years from now. People will stop showing up and stop calling and that’s when it matters most.”
I went on to experience a loss of mine own just five years after my friend lost her parents, and it’s true:
People stop calling.
People stop showing up.
And they just tell you to move on already.
And it’s heartbreaking.
I tell this story because of what is happening with Black Lives Matter and the grief the Black community is experiencing–and has been experiencing time and time again. The Black community has to grieve over and over for another person that was unjustly taken by police brutality and hate crimes, and has had to do so for centuries. George Floyd. Treyvon Martin. Breonna Taylor. Eric Garner. Miles Hall. Tamir Rice–and so many more.
In the last month, many of us are hearing stories about young, innocent Black lives taken too soon for the first time ever. And these are just the ones the media decides to cover. What about the ones we don’t see? What about the countless times every Black person has been pulled over, harassed, simply for the color of their skin. And how about the way the media covers these stories?
Did you know that the police were wearing plain clothes when they broke into Breonna Taylor’s apartment with no warning? Did you know that Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend was in jail up until recently, while her murderers were walking free for trying to protect himself and sleeping girlfriend? Did you know that they sent Breonna Taylor’s mom to the hospital when she arrived at the scene, when they knew she wasn’t there? I don’t remember any of the stories I read about the killing of Breonna Taylor including these crucial details until more recently.
While many South Asians are only waking up to our own inaction and how we can contribute to the movement, please remember, don’t show up just today.
Let’s show up next week.
Let’s show up 10 months from now.
Let’s continue to show up until we see deep-rooted changes in our policies and in our government. In our media. In our healthcare system. In our day-to-day interactions.
If you’re unfamiliar with the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, you can review them here. The last few weeks have been eye-opening for many of us. If it’s helpful here are some resources we found educational. Feel free to add more in the comments section.
TEST + COURSES:
What is qualified immunity?