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The Columbian: When America Murders Me, Make Sure They Hear Me Scream

With all schools in New Jersey in distance learning mode, the dedicated staff of Columbia High School’s award-winning student newspaper, The Columbianproudly present their third on-line edition at thecolumbianchs.com. The following guest column “When America Murders Me, Make Sure They Hear Me Scream” by Ashley Lola Fanka, Guest Columnist, Class of 2021, was originally published by The Columbian on June 17, 2020. With permission from CHS administration and staff at the newspaper, Village Green will be posting more content from the current issue of The Columbian in the coming weeks.

Ashley Lola Fanka

When you look up Michael Brown, the first word you see is “shooting,” and under it, is “event.” Almost like he was not a person, but a story. You forget that he was only 18 years old. You forget that his friends called him “Big Mike,” and that although he was shy, he was also funny and kind-hearted. A quick Google search doesn’t tell you how he was supposed to start college to become an engineer the week of his death. All you see is: Location: Ferguson, Mo.; Charges: none filed; Date: August 9, 2014.

You read about how a small interaction turned into a black man being shot with his hands up. You read about how black people’s small interactions with the police always end with blood on the streets. You feel some remorse, so you go to Google Images and find a picture of the man you don’t really remember the name of. You post it on your Instagram with the caption, “No Justice, No Peace,” then log off and go on with your day. Or maybe you cry as the news plays in front of you.

Maybe you have a little brother with deep cocoa for skin that gets in trouble at school a lot, but gives the best advice and never fails to make you laugh. You wonder if, after they leave his body in the street for hours, they’ll justify his death because he got into fights and talked back to his teachers. You wonder if that is the legacy your brother will leave. Maybe you’re afraid that your blood will trail down the sleeves of a white man’s arm and he will get away with it because your dark shade of brown unknowingly wears a monster-like persona.

So when the question of if America has a responsibility to its people arises, what is supposed to be said? Is the American public supposed to ignore the mass murder of black people due to police brutality and settle for the false brainwashing that this is truly the land of the free and home of the brave? How am I supposed to feel safe walking down the street like Trayvon Martin? How am I supposed to feel safe going on a jog like Ahmaud Arbery? How am I supposed to feel safe sitting in the comfort of my own home like Breonna Taylor? How am I supposed to feel knowing that I can be strangled on the sidewalk of my neighborhood like Eric Garner? How am I supposed to feel knowing that trained officers can put their knee on my neck for eight minutes with a smirk on their face like with George Floyd? How can I possibly feel safe when the people who are supposed to be protecting me are killing my people? George Floyd and Eric Garner couldn’t breathe, but as long as I can, I will scream their names. When America murders me, make sure they hear me scream.

Designer: M. McBride

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The Columbian staffCo-Editors-in-Chief: Martina Zacker ’20 and Nicholas Shires ’20. DesignEditors: Dana Hugel ’20 and Matt McBride ’21. Photo Editor: Arielle Loubier ’21. Art Editor: Avery Soupios ’20. News Editor: Jon Cutler ’20. Arts & Entertainment Editor: Emily Wilner ’20. In-Depth Co-Editors: Noori Zubieta ’20 and Ruari McEwan ’20. Opinions Co-Editors: Jordan Young ’20 and Ari Mehlman ’20. Sports Co-Editors: Sydney Rednik ’20 and Zoe Slavin ’20. Designers: Derek Gutierrez ’20, Jack Griffith ’22, Ethan Walden ’20, Isaac Weber ’21, Charlie Hummel ’21, Sydney Mannion ’22. Advisers for The Columbian are Joshua Enyeart (English Dept.) and Cindy Malhotra (Fine Arts).

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