If we’re honest, we have to recognize that America’s police has a probably with Black people. There have been way too many shootings involving officers of the law and Black people for us to not notice the correlation. Many of these incidents are taking place in public spaces; getting pulled over for a broken taillight, speeding or just follow the law. Most of these incidents are happening in situations where Black people are unarmed, and many times not resisting or ignoring the commands given by officers. And yet, their lives are being taken. Black men in particular are being shot in the back, from far away, with their hands in the air or handcuffed while laying flat on the ground.
So what happens after? What happens to the people who’s loved one is killed by police? How are their lives affected?
Remember Philando Castile? His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the car when officer Jeronimo Yanez shot him multiple signs. The incident was recorded on Facebook live and seen all over the world. I remember how she kept referring to him as officer as Philando was dying next to her in the car. Somehow still knew that that in order for her life to be sparred, she had to follow “the code”. But whatever happened to Diamond? What was her life like after experiencing this first-hand tragedy? I never really wondered what happened to her. Not because I don’t care, but because Philando was the focus. His life and death are what America focused on. But what happened to her? I don’t think we even thought about her too much because she lived.
This book is about 16 year old Starr Carter. She’s from an “urban” neighborhood aka the hood. She has two brothers. One from her father’s prior relationship, Seven, and and a younger one named Saucony. She attends a high school 45 minutes away from home in the suburbs, where a majority of her classmates are White. Her mother is a nurse and her father is a business-owner of a local grocery store. She’s grown up with a strong Christian background, praying often with her family prior to departures for the day, before meals and hard times when her family needs strength. But her family has instilled strong pride for Black people and their plight, often reciting the Black Panther Party’s 10 Points Program and quotes from Malcom X speeches.
One day, she reluctantly goes to a house party in her local neighborhood. She goes with her older brother’s other sister Kenya. Confusing right? Well Kenya and Seven share the same mother, while Starr and Seven share the same father. But I digress. So Starr goes out with Kenya to a local house party. While there she sees a couple of people she knows but runs into a childhood friend, Khalil. They’ve known each other since they were three but haven’t interacted in months. While at the party they catch up, but not long after there’s gun shots. Khalil grabs Starr and they rush off to his car. He offers to give her a ride home. On the way, Khalil is pulled over by an officer. While Starr knows the protocol, Khalil is less forgiving. Words are exchanged, Khalil exits the car, and while his back is turned to the officer to check on Starr, he’s shot in the back. He dies.
This story is about what happens after. What happens to a 16 year old girl who witnesses the death of her childhood friend. He was unarmed. He was innocent. And now he’s dead.
I personally was greatly moved by this story. My heart hurt to hear of this tale of this young girl who was a first hand witness to the death of someone she loves. I feel like if you’re “woke” you need to read this book and understand the experiences of Black people in this country. If you believe that #BlueLivesMatter, you need to read this story to understand the alternative perspective. If you have any interest in equity of any kind, you need to read this story. It will move you, it will hurt you and it will make you feel something. It doesn’t give you all the answers, but it definitely made me think, whatever happened to Diamond?