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I am a Black, single mother of two girls Blair (8) and Harper (6). One night recently, my Remington home was quiet because I sent them to their father’s house for a much-needed break after 84 consecutive days at home together amid social distancing precautions due to COVID-19. Today, my mind finds some ease in reading that we are headed into Phase 1 of re-opening here in Baltimore.
However, the imagery associated with the police killing of Breonna Taylor is one I’ve struggled not to replay in my mind. The thoughts of the civil unrest all around the country make it hard to focus, sleep, or just let your kids go out for a quick visit. On Friday, June 5, 2020, it was much harder to ignore the imagery because it was Breonna’s 27th birthday.
On March 13, 2020, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers while she was sleeping when they entered her home. This senseless killing took a daughter from her mother.
When my girls are home, I often peer into their room to watch them sleep and to ensure their safety— wishing them sweet dreams. Even now when they are only 25 minutes away, I miss them dearly. They carry on and leave their toys all over the floor but as annoying as it may be for a mother, I’m sure Breonna’s mom would give anything to rewind the hands of time and relive those days. My daughters are much younger than Breonna was or would’ve been today but the world and its ills are one and the same for my daughters as they were for her.
This is all a nightmare; to think that my daughters could grow older, take jobs serving their communities like Breonna, and have their lives taken, carelessly by law enforcement wherever they may reside. I pray God to plant a hedge of protection over them even right now. I’m afraid and rightfully so, I’m unsure that hashtags are enough, I’m unclear on if protests or officers taking knees is enough to appease the grief that Breonna’s mom must feel. The collective grief in community is heavy and the media is persistent on messaging around George Floyd, But all I can ask is, What about our daughter, Breonna?
How should we train our own daughters to live in a world that has no regard for them? Should I prepare their minds even now to be fearful of law enforcement? There are so many questions laying squarely on my shoulders as a black mother. Especially given the geographic context and history of police brutality in Baltimore. Do we move to another state? I’ve even gone the length to research the story of George Floyd and found that he lived in multiple states over the course of his life. You simply can’t outrun acts of carelessness, I guess. I’m stumped by the entire system from the police force to the prison system— it’s not necessarily broken, it was just never meant to protect the majority of us.
In Baltimore, I have memories as early as age 16 where friends of mine both young men and women were locked up. We would all just be hanging out trying to come of age— not looking for trouble. As I got older— in my early twenties— I worked in healthcare just like Breonna and would come home after a long night exhausted from patient care. The degrees of separation between myself and Breonna, situations like hers, and my daughters are too close.
I’ve skimmed articles where her mother describes it as being “harder to breathe without her.” I spend nearly 365 days of the year in very close proximity to my daughters and I can’t imagine, and I don’t want to imagine a day without my children here on earth. The 84 days that I have been home with my girls marks the 84 days that Breonna’s mom has been without her. She has a lifetime to go.