Tired of the Digital Tears over Black “Lives”

Right now, I cannot completely or adequately describe how I feel. 15-Year old Jordan Edwards is dead. A kind and promising young Black man by the accounts of those who knew him. He is dead and he shouldn’t be. A story that we’ve heard all too often in the in United States. From what I’ve seen in my social media network, most people know how to feel.

Sadness

Anger

Despondence

It is quite jarring to scroll down an Instagram feed and see the same image (the young man’s smiling face) posted over and over again, searing itself into my mind’s eye. It is almost as if it was planned for that very effect. But it wasn’t. It is a natural manifestation of people caring. But I still don’t know how to feel. Seeing young Jordan’s face inspires sadness, anger, and despondence, but reading the words below his picture engender another feeling that I can’t quite describe. It’s a sort of smorgasbord of feelings and my very limited vocabulary hasn’t helped me portray them one bit. If a knife were placed to my throat, I might say that people’s social media odes to Jordan Edwards leave me with a mix of “Wow, I feel your pain” and “Gimme a break.” See, as I see my social network wax poetic, painting vivid pictures of what they did when they heard the news or saw his face… when I read things like:

“I’m in tears now and my heart hurts for another Black king executed by hate.”

or

“No words….I have no words to speak. When is enough enough? Look at his face. The future he could have had. This hurts. It always hurts.”

When I thumb up on my phone screen and watch the lyrical, eloquent, evocative, and passionate words that my “friends” use here, I feel them. Seeing Jordan Edwards’ smile, his innocence is evident. I may not be in tears now but my heart surely hurts for his family. But there is still that “Gimme a break” feeling there. I could never think something so callous about a story so sad. The break that I’m requesting is from people expressing their sadness over this specific situation in such general terms that it might make you think Jordan Edwards’ life and the fact that it ended is all that matters. That’s not the case.

Say, by chance, if I were to post about Willie Woodus anytime soon. Say I posted his picture and a few words on how sad his situation is. I might be maligned and castigated as a provocateur. This has happened to me before. People who had just shed their digital tears all over the timelines of those following them criticized my decision to shed a couple digital tears myself. We all digitally cried over the death of a young Black boy, and if the deaths of these boys were all that mattered, as I had thought, then there would have been no problem. Unfortunately, there was more to their tears than mine. The boy I had showcased on my social media was killed in a random shooting in Los Angeles. The boy they shared had been killed by a police officer. Now before you hit that X in the top right corner, this is no “What about Black-on-Black crime?” argument. I know better than that. I write this because I’m tired of the pompous virtual signaling about these young men’s lives and all that they could have been, and all that they could have done, and all the birthdays they’ll miss, and all the children they could have had. I’m sick of people typing away as though they really care about any of that. They don’t…because a Black boy killed in a drive-by is going to miss just as many birthdays, will never have children of their own, and will never become a doctor or the president just like the boy killed by the police. To say that you care for all these things when a cop kills a kid, yet scoff with indifference to the homicide numbers coming out of Chicago or the wildly senseless killings that occur in Southern California, you are implicitly stating that the lives of those killed didn’t matter as much as who they were killed by. Again, I say, this is not a call to address Black-on-Black crime and forget about police killings. It’s just me, letting you know, that your poetic imagery about the life of a young boy killed isn’t about the boy, or the family, or even you. It’s about the killer. You hurt that much more when it’s a cop. Either acknowledge it or just stop…but don’t pretend that it’s just about lost lives.

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