“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Nearly a week after I was startled by the flashing lights of police cars in front of Botham Shem Jean’s apartment complex, my heart feels heavier than ever. The weight builds with every news article I read twisting narrative in the favor of a murderer. The entire system is working against him, even though he is the one most in need of an advocate after his voice was silenced by Amber Guyger’s gun. Why are we forgetting that he was the victim and issuing search warrant affidavits with language implying he had something to hide?
But I know all too well – this is how systemic oppression works. And so I continue to do what little I can to document the work happening on the ground to see justice done. This work, and the need for it, is not new to me. Somehow, though, the silence or averted attention of my non-POC friends around Botham’s story feels especially personal.
There was a moment at the recent protest when I started to feel a sense of panic as police cars pulled up at the scene. I had a dark thought imagining things going sideways and ending in violence. If I didn’t make it home from this rally, would my friends and family still remain silent? Would anyone speak out for me if my voice was gone?
I wrote the following post in desperation, not just for myself, but for the city of Dallas as it takes its place on the national stage for this unprecedented case.
You are breaking my heart and normalizing the killing of our brothers and sisters.
What, if not an innocent man like #BothamShemJean being murdered in his own home, is ENOUGH to make you open your eyes to this broken system, city, world – and speak up?
How much longer will you avoid “being political” while mothers bury their sons? Is it not worth ruffling a few feathers (or losing followers) to AFFIRM that someone’s life has VALUE?
Nothing. . . ?
That’s the sound of privilege.
Can’t find the words? It’s okay to be at a loss. This tragedy is unimaginable and incomprehensible. But your silence only creates more space in the room for injustice to leave its indelible mark. Start small. SAY HIS NAME. Botham Shem Jean. Remind the world he was a person with a name, family, friends, love, dreams, promise. He had a heartbeat until she DECIDED to pull the trigger. He was a person who deserved better than this.
The world is watching Dallas now for what we do next. And history will remember.