Why We Can’t Ignore Jazmine Barnes’ Death


It’s been a sleepy start to the new year.

As early as Wednesday morning, memes and tweets began popping up expressing a collective societal exasperation with the thought of going back to work after a long stretch of holiday bingeing. Food bingeing. Netflix bingeing. Social media bingeing. It seems as though a characteristically “bad year” filled with political, cultural, and social justice lapses left everyone exhausted.

Tempting as it may be to give in to the social media suggestions that we all ease into the new year  — easing up on the cacophony of resistance chants and cultural outrage — Sunday, December 30th reminded us that our work as citizens of a deeply divided society can not pause for any holiday.  

As reported by Shaun King, two days before the new year, a young black girl was deliberately shot in the head near a Houston Walmart by a 40-year-old white man.

Jazmine Barnes was 7 years old. Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, suggests the attack may have been racially motivated.

“You’d seen that it was a Black mother, with four beautiful girls in the car,” she said in a message on CNN to the shooter.

According to several media outlets, Barnes, along with her mother and three sisters, were on an early morning coffee run when a man pulled alongside their car and opened fire, deliberately shooting into the car several times injuring Washington and fatally taking Barnes’ life. Police are calling the shooting a “random and senseless” act of violence that has shaken their community.

The year ended with this tragic news, on the heels of the news of two other tragic and unnecessary deaths. Only days earlier, eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died in custody of Trump’s immigration prisons. And a few weeks before that, seven-year-old Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin died under similar circumstances.

While various opinions circulate the Internet about Jazmine, Felipe, and Jakelin’s deaths, one fact remains crystal clear: when children are dying in America, it is our collective job to keep working.

Despite the exhaustive news cycle that continues to report on atrocities springing from hateful rhetoric and belief systems, it cannot become easy for us to be desensitized to children’s deaths. It cannot become easier for us to choose tired over woke.

I too wanted to avert my eyes this time, when another child’s face popped up on my news feed with a harrowing headline and a hashtag. But, I’m insisting to start my year by choosing better — not just for myself, but for my country.

After all, waking up may be the only path to seeing hope for our nation’s future.

Activist Shaun King and Attorney Lee Merrit are offering a $50,000 reward for any information that may lead to the capture of Jazmine’s murderer. To provide any information, email shaunking@gmail.com.

To donate to Jazmine’s family, visit their Go Fund Me.

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