To The Next Breonna Taylor,
Perhaps I have stood side by side with you at Injustice Square Park. Knowing me, I commented on your beautiful hair, and you said, “I love your hair too.” You held a Black Lives Matter flag, and I was mesmerized as it waved in the bluegrass state’s breeze. I imagine we laughed and smiled as we basked in each other’s melanin magic. We threw our heads back and shouted, “No Justice, No Peace!” We raised our voices to the sky filled with the lingering fumes of tear gas and shouted, “BREEWAY!!!” We marched hand in hand and raised Black fists, defying the powers that be. We stood together for justice. We looked at each other as only Black women could, our eyes locking as we said, “Keep your head up and see you tomorrow.” Praying that we would genuinely have an opportunity to see each other tomorrow. Breonna taught us that tomorrow is simply a wish, which is why I find myself compelled to write this letter to you today for what I know is inevitable.
So, to the next Breonna Taylor, I am sorry that Louisville refuses to learn from its mistakes. I am sorry that your name will be just another name in the long list of Black people who have been killed by the police. I am sorry that this city refuses to acknowledge that its police department continues to hire the most incompetent and inept officers in this nation. Even when officers are not recommended for rehire due to actions in violation of standing orders, refusal to accept supervision, and general poor attitude toward the Division of Police and its commanding staff, Louisville Metro Police Department will not only hire them but promote them. I am sorry that an officer like Brett Hankison can shoot into a White person’s wall and will be charged for that before they will ever be charged for killing you. Perhaps when you hear the bullets, go stand near a wall and pray that you blend in.
I am sorry this city will attempt to cover up your murder. I am sorry that lies will hold more weight than the truth. I am sorry that when you die, gasping for breath as you choke on your own blood, the Louisville Metro Police Department will be more concerned with covering their tracks. Saving your life will be of no concern to them. The only thing that will matter is how they will spin the story to cover up their wrongdoings.
I am sorry that every aspect of leadership in this city will fail you. I apologize that you will vote for people, even Black people, that will overlook and ignore your death and only use your name posthumously for their political gain. I am sorry that this city will not work to improve a criminal justice system underscored by corruption. I am sorry that judges like Mary Shaw will remain on the bench. I am sorry that we will not have a Police Chief in a position that cares about Black Lives. We will continue to have a police department that is fueled by racism and sexism, so you being a Black woman will never matter in their eyes. Unfortunately, Louisville has shown us that Black women are disposable in this city. Black women will only be called in to clean up a problem, and sadly even that will not be enough to save you.
I am sorry, Louisville, Kentucky, and the nation will not take the time to get to know you. I am sorry they will consider you a “suspect” before they ever (if ever) consider you a victim. I am sorry that every aspect of your life will be on trial. I am sorry that your existence must be perfectly pristine for this nation to take notice or to care. I am sorry that this city will remind you that your life is invaluable. I am sorry that people that want to believe the worst about Black people will call you a thug, a drug dealer, a low-life, and nigger. I am sorry that news reporters will become archeologists digging into your past and mining any piece of information that seeks to defame your character. I am sorry that news stations will not monitor their comments and allow racists to denigrate your name.
I am sorry that this city will not care enough to see you. The sad truth is, as a Black woman, this city never saw you in all your beauty and splendor. This city will only care about you to the extent it can extract something from you, and once they have swallowed you whole, they will gladly spit you back out. This city will never see everything you contributed to this community nor understand how your death left holes that cannot be easily filled with plywood adorned with images of your face. I am sorry that this city never cared enough about Black women to get this moment right. I am sorry this city failed you.
To the Next Breonna Taylor…Please know we tried. We screamed. We shouted. We cried. We marched. We fought to change laws. We voted. We warned them. And yet we find ourselves here again, and we will again and again and again…