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Remember Their Names

Hey everyone. How's it going? I'm sorry it's taken a while for me to get round to this. The end of semester beat my ass real good. That, and I kind of found it difficult figuring out how to lead on from such a real and raw first post. The idea of being that candid and vulnerable again kind of intimidated me. Like I really did expose myself just there. I started second guessing my capabilities of dealing with and discussing such sensitive topics. Maybe I'm almost too passionate. So much so that I just end up shouting over everyone, saying things I don't mean and doing more good than bad when someone challenges my views. I mean, I ain't saying not everyone deserves it but like sis calm down, some people don't. I'm easily disheartened. The most minor incident to me, can feel like a setback that I will never bounce back from. Sometimes I feel like my ideas and the words I would use to formulate them, are locked inside of me as prisoners, and every time I try to communicate them, something that resembles drunken nonsense spills from my mouth instead. I am the furthest thing from what I would consider an 'ideal activist'. I'm still learning, and dabbling with the trial and error process. But that's okay because no matter how much I second guess myself, this need to push for change within me never goes away. I won't stay silent for the things that I love, and I don't think anyone else should either. The names we chant, demanding justice for. The people we can't yet call our equals because of the limits society has out on them. They were, and they are, sons and daughters of heartbroken mothers or the friends of their friends or brothers to their sisters and sisters to their brothers. Every single day, without knowing it, they inspire me to remind myself that my being is more than my emotions and my voice is louder than that of any of my insecurities. We all have a duty in this revolution for societal change, and we can't just give up when the going gets tough. We all have the capability to band together and demand change.

Remember how infuriated and disgusted we were with the condition of the world this summer after hearing about the tragic, heartbreaking deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, to name a few who's names filled our feeds, timelines and the headlines. Well, if you have a minute, I'd like to ask you some questions like we're having a real life conversation whilst sitting on a park bench as friends or something. When's the last time any of these names, or any other name for that matter, crossed your mind? Not them as hashtags or instaposts, or maybe even for some people, a chance to self-promote. But them as the children of parents, who the only way they can reach them this Christmas is through prayer at night before they go to sleep. Them as their friends' friend, who now feel a part of them will be missing forever. If I maybe asked about their individual cases, would you be able to provide me with an update? And if not, well then I guess why not? Is it because we all seem to have this bad habit of once everyone else's anger dies down, our own does too? Is it because after everyone else stopped shouting their names in what was a half-hearted attempt at achieving justice, you kinda just pushed it to the back of your mind and moved on? Carrying on until another name is added to this never-ending list of people who the system failed, and we all have to be angry again. And that right there, I think, is one of the biggest problems in trying to push this idea of a revolution to overthrow the current system through. The way we subconsciously give up and move on after our initial attempt has been rejected by the legal system and those at the top of society's hierarchy. Now please don't take this the wrong way. It's not a dig. It's not personal. This losing of faith, I think it's something we all have to hold our hands up and admit we've been guilty of at one point or another. So I'm asking as someone who has taken time to step back and analyse her actions and the use, or lack thereof, of her voice in the last couple of weeks. Months even. Here are some of the questions I asked myself one night when this thought of not doing enough to help the communities I identify with kept me up until the early hours of the morning:

How come we're able to continue with our lives, thinking we're all each others equals, knowing we stopped saying the names of the people who's mothers never even got to say goodbye?

How do we spend so long using the platforms we were given to draw so much attention to the issues surrounding equality, just to one day stop? Like, we literally go from sharing all this valuable information, fooling ourselves that it's enough activism to drive around real change to one day going back to posting a picture of brunch. How can we walk with our heads held high after that?

How can we truly believe that no child should ever be left behind, and every single one of them should be able to start at the same starting point in life, if we willingly allow for some of them out there to sit in the cages of inequality and discrimination?

What kind of people does all that make us? I can only imagine what their friends and families have to say.

Please don't get me wrong, I know how being so heavily involved in all this can feel like you're taking one step forward just to take a million back. Just picked yourself up off the ground, and brushed off the dust just to be shoved right back down when the jury role out a 'not guilty' verdict or somewhere else in the world go backwards in their rights for the LGBTQ + community or the so-called protector has read another death sentence out to an innocent life. It's exhausting and it's frustrating and at times it can be gut-wrenchingly painful, but it's not even a fraction of what them, or the people close to them feel. What we do, the drawing attention to it for them, that's really the bare minimum. We don't know nothing about the real hard work. It's okay to at times of deflation of faith and exhaustion of resources to ask yourself what's the point? But if it's alright with you, I'd like to remind you why it's so important to keep screaming FUCK THE SYSTEM with every last ounce of energy in our bodies, even when it feels like all hope is lost.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Tomorrow, to a lot of people, is a day that will shine light on what has been a pretty grim and dark year. I love Christmas time. I love spending it with family and friends and just being in the moment with them. Tomorrow, the families of those we fought for this year, will wake up with a sore heart and an empty space in their lives that will extend past Christmas Day, and they'll probably think about what could've been.

Breonna Taylor hoped to start a family in preparation for this Christmas. She won't ever get to do that. A person who adored this time of year, won't be there to project that contagious energy onto her family tomorrow. Because she was killed in what was an unlawful home raid by the police. She was asleep, and they continued to shoot bullets into her lifeless body. Merry Christmas Angel. I hope one day we can say you got the justice you deserve.

Do you guys remember this video of Gianna Floyd that went around when she excitedly exclaimed how her Dad had changed the world. I go back and I watch it and I think about how people raised money for her Dad's murderer and his accomplices to be released on bail, and I can't help but feel this little girl has been let down by the world once again. Tomorrow won't be the same for her. It might never be the same excitement for her again. Her Dad won't ever get to experience his little girl ripping into her presents on Christmas morning again. George Floyd was killed in what was a 1 against 5 situation when Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. He cried for his Mum.

This is a massive time of year for kids. The excitement of Santa coming tonight, that anticipation of finding out whether you've made it on the 'good list' or not this year, the fun you have during the build-up with your elf-on-the-shelf. Just all the things you remember most about Christmas as a kid. Every kid should have the opportunity to be excited about whatever it is they celebrate, whenever it is they celebrate it, for however long they remain in childhood. I don't even feel like it's right me sitting here right now about to write about CHILDREN whose lives were cut short at the hands of people they should be able to trust.

Shukri Yahya Abdi's family have described her as sweet and innocent, as most kids of 12 years old are. Her mother took her and her siblings to this country from Somalia, to give them a better life and her child was taken from her. Classmates of hers led her down and shoved her in a canal, even though she couldn't swim. No one's been held accountable for her death. Police has called it accidental. Bite marks were found on her body. I can't even imagine what her family are going through. The ignorant dismissal of her case genuinely angers me. I don't think it can be denied that if this happened to a white British child, authorities would've acted differently. The way the system failed her is undeniable. Ever since I read about her case, I think about her a lot. I thought about her whilst writing this because I especially think she's one of the names we can't give up on. She was a child who left everything she knew, thinking she had a brighter future ahead of her. She deserves for us to be angry at British authorities. She deserves for us to want change in terms of the stigma that surrounds immigrant children, in light of what happened to her. Think about the kids you know, and how tonight they're restless and filled with excitement, and how that feeling puts them on cloud 9. I bet the last time Shukri felt like that, she thought she'd feel it again one day.

Tamir Rice would have been preparing for all the excitement of Christmas, that was on the way. 12 years old and shot dead on the 22nd of November 2014, in the height of the emergence of Black Lives Matter in America. He was playing with a toy gun. I played with a toy gun, and you probably did too at one point. People tried so hard to defend his killer saying that he should've known better than to go out with anything that resembles a gun. He wasn't a danger or a threat or within possession of a lethal weapon. He was just a kid playing in the snow. I think it's safe to say Christmas was completely shattered for his family that year. It'll probably never be the same again. As the season begins to approach, so does the anniversary of his death. Given half a chance, he could've went on to do great things with his life. But with one presumption from an under qualified authoritative figure, that future was ripped away from him. Whilst his mother should've been rushing around trying to find him a Christmas present that year, she was instead planning her 12-year-olds funeral. I hope one day they find peace again, and I hope they'll be happy again, and I hope they know that this Christmas, and for many more to come, they'll be in the thoughts of many and maybe they can find some comfort in that.

Their names matter today and they matter tomorrow and they matter every single day after that. They don't deserve for us to ever forget they're tragedies. I sometimes think, what if it was your brother or your dad? Not in a million years would I stop fighting for justice for them. The sad part is, the few names I've mentioned, are in fact only A FEW. There are hundreds and hundreds more. In fact, there are so much that the average human mind probably couldn't remember each and every one of them. Doesn't that speak volumes to you? But whilst they may merely be a name to us, they were the worlds of someone. Them not being there is going to be the whole reason someone doesn't enjoy this time of year. They miss them. They can't come to terms with never seeing them again. All they want in life is to go back and for what was done to be undid. This is for those people. The ones longingly missing a loved one who was tragically taken from them in unjust wrongdoing. This is for Rayshard Brooks. This is for Daniel Prude. This is for Atatiana Jefferson. This is for Bee Love Slater. This is for Chynal Lindsay. And this is for every other person who as a consequence of inequality were torn from life this year, and every other one.

It's been A YEAR guys. She was not a moment. But what I have taken from this year, is how important it is to make time for the people you love. Go hug them. Call them. However you're communicating this year, go and do it. Cliche, I know but life's too short not to. I'm excited and nervous to see what 2021 brings but I feel better knowing I'm going into it with the right people in my life. Thanks again for being patient with me whilst I sorted my head out. I hope Santa's good to y'all. Have a very Merry Christmas.

You know, we can't bring them back. All we can do is continue to fight.

Tyra x

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