he truth: When I sat down to write this list it was because I was angry. I was angry that Rekia Boyd’s 22-year-old life was over. I was angry that on March 22, an off-duty police officer in Chicago killed Rekia, by piercing her skull with a bullet. I was outraged that another black family was crying, searching for justice, for answers, for allies while walking with deep open wounds of loss. This is an ache so familiar. I was certain that people would rally to support Rekia Boyd’s family and demand that the officer, Dante Servin, be held accountable for her murder. But a month after her death, there were not even 2,000 signatures on the online petition her brother started. This list is partially an attempt to sort out why our names are missing. It is wholly an effort to get the words “Justice for Rekia” on as many lips as possible.
9 Reasons That One Month After Her Murder, There Are Not Even 2,000 Signatures On the Petition Seeking Justice in the Case of Rekia Boyd.
1. Because Rekia Boyd is not being discussed by national media.
I know us and I believe in us. I believe that if we heard about Rekia Boyd, we would insist that action be taken in her case. But we can’t hear what is not being discussed. I didn’t find out about Rekia’s death from the news, a friend told me about it during a phone conversation. Many of my friends admitted that they hadn’t heard about the case. It comes as no surprise as the television coverage on Rekia was mostly out of Chicago. We need to become our own national media.
2. Because we are stretched so thin by work & bills & home we have not had a moment to add our names to the petition.
As Wu-Tang Clan said “life is hectic.” I don’t think this is a mistake. A good way to keep folks from making too much ruckus is by keeping them busy, running, stuck in survival mode. I have certainly been guilty of moving so fast that I’ve neglected important issues. But our lives depend on us working together. If we can find time in our busy schedules to Tweet or update a Facebook status, we can find time to sign this petition.
3. Because we don’t know a petition exists.
Now we do.
4. Because Kim Kardashian is dating Kanye West.
Think I’m just being sarcastic? If you do an internet search on the phrase Kim Kardashian dating Kanye West, you will get 7,340,000 results. If you do a search for Rekia Boyd, you’ll retrieve 73,800.
5. Because Rekia was a black woman and our deaths don’t merit national attention and petitions.
I did not see the movie, but I did read some of the tweets from racist Hunger Game fans. I can’t get them out of my head. Rue, one of the characters that Hunger Game fans lined up to see, is black. This upset some folks terribly. “Ewww, Rue is black. I’m not watching” read one tweet. “You wish we could cry over the black guy dying. lmfao” was another tweet. Our mere existence disturbs some people. It is easy for them to turn their heads away from our lives and our deaths.
Being black in a culture that denigrates blackness is tough. Being a woman in a culture that does not value the feminine is tough. Being a black woman–well, that is not for the faint of heart. “Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the innocent blonde girl you picture,” This system we live under was put in place by people who failed to see black women as human beings. Our guilt is presumed. Ignoring Rekia’s death is a symptom of the sicknesses of racism and sexism.
Audre Lorde wrote “Black women have on one hand always been highly visible, and so, on the other hand, have been rendered invisible through the depersonalization of racism.”
We live in a racist, capitalist, male-dominated culture. We are usually seen when our visibility profits someone. A black woman being killed by an off-duty police officer? Maybe that just doesn’t sound like money in the bank.
6. Because Michael Stewart, Amadou Diallo, Eleanor Bumpers, Remarley Graham, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Anthony Baez, Trayvon Martin and Anastacio Hernandez Rojas are deep wounds on our psyches and we can’t believe that this is happening again.
7. Because it is more important to share our products and projects on Facebook than another petition.
In this popularity contest of a culture, having a deep concern or conviction might mean losing “friends” or money. I spend a lot of time on my work and honoring the lives of my brothers and sisters is an integral part of it. Trayvon Martin’s murder garnered national media attention largely because of the work done through social media to draw attention to his case. Let’s do the same for Rekia Boyd.
8. Because we are used to the sight of our own blood.
Going a day without witnessing or hearing about some form of violence is unheard of for many people in cities in the United States. It is all over YouTube in the fights that go viral, it is in the video games, it is on the news, it is in the street. When violence becomes the norm we stop being moved by it. I don’t think this is where we are but I wrote this to highlight how very often we are faced with news of death and war and to warn against becoming desensitized.
9. All of the above.