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Tasheka Lavann Headshot

When Will They Stop Killing Us?

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It was just last month that I found myself in Barbara Hall Park mourning the loss of 50 of my LGBTQ family members in Orlando. The tears I shed then haven't even fully dried up, yet here I am again mourning the loss of my Black brothers and sisters.

To be quite honest, I've been mourning all my life -- mourning for my rainbow family; mourning for those who carry a skin that looks just like mine and I am truly tired -- I am broken.

Yesterday (Wednesday), as several members from various communities shared tributes at the In Memoriam: Honouring The Lives of Jessica Williams, Alton Sterling, & Philando Castile, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. We are now in 2016 and the same conversations I heard as a child living in my grandparents' home are the same conversations I am having today at 30 years old. How can that be, right?

Jessica, Alton and Philando are only three of the over 130 Black men and women that have been killed by police for 2016 alone. As a Black woman and daughter of a Black father and Black mother, who respects and values every human body on this earth... I am heartbroken.

There is a systematic war against a set of people who cannot erase the colour of their skin; a type of oppression, experienced by my ancestors, which has been prettied up. One doesn't have to look too far to see this truth.

The evidence is right in front of us -- the countless videos showing how Black people are treated by the privileged and killed by police officers for doing absolutely nothing other than trying to exist in a world that still thinks we have nothing to complain about; a world that ignores our screams for help. Just ask the therapist who was shot while helping an autistic man.

But yesterday (Wednesday), as I looked across the field from the Scadding Court Community Centre, I saw a park filled with people -- from various races and walks of life and from several religious and cultural backgrounds -- coming together to comfort one another.

As tears drowned my face, I locked eyes with several other mourners who also could not control their emotions. At the end of the memorial, a Caucasian woman came up to me with tears in her eyes and outstretched arms. We hugged for what seemed like an eternity and cried tears that could fill up the ocean.

I felt like staying in that moment and never letting go -- because this is the kind of world I dream of. This is what humanity should look like. These moments should not just happen when we are mourning. This type of unity and empowerment of each other should be experienced every second of every single day.

As I cried for Jessica Williams, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the long list of Black people who have been killed by police officers across North America, I whispered a prayer for all the families of those slain police officers who were also senselessly killed in Dallas while trying to protect our community. While many have found it difficult to mourn for both groups of people, it was very easy for me to do so because I am a fellow human being with a heart.

Where do we go from here as a human race? How do we make things right with the world? I don't think there is one answer as we all have work to do. But I believe if we just give each other a chance to speak and listen -- just as this diverse group of people listened to all the speakers at yesterday's vigil -- we can come together for something more meaningful than death.

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