Gabby at FabNewport creating her own peace sign sticker

By Gabby Brown, 15
FabNewport Veteran and Emerging Activist

My deep sleep was interrupted by the sickening sound of my 8:30 alarm. I let out a quick, deep grunt cursing the sun before I rolled over to grab my phone to end my ears’ suffering. Like the majority of my generation, the first thing I do when I wake up is to check my social media. Did anyone text me? Did the group chat see the TikTok I sent? And most recently: Are there any more COVID-19 updates?

As I am scrolling down my timeline, my heart sinks and I am paralyzed by a post that reads “please I can’t breathe.” At first, I thought this was a remembrance post for Eric Garner, a black man who was murdered in a chokehold by NYPD officers after stating multiple times that he was struggling to breathe 4 years ago. However, when I slid to the video, I realized this was a new tragedy.

The video was of George Floyd, a black man who died while being arrested because an officer kept his knee pressed into his neck. Goosebumps formed all over my body as I watched the officers’ lifeless eyes stare at the camera while Floyd cried out in desperation for help and his mother. Tears began to roll down my cheeks and cool my face; hot with anger. Racially motivated murders of black people were nothing new to me. I was 9 when I watched the Trayvon Martin case unfold and was made aware of the reality of black people in America when George Zimmerman was found not guilty. I could feel all hope and motivation leaving my body as I went through all the posts regarding George Floyd’s murder. I was numb from anger and my mind was blank except for one thought: When was this going to end? The week before it was Breonna Taylor and the week before that was Ahmaud Arbery.

While the world was battling the COVID-19 pandemic, black people in America were also battling the 400 years-long epidemic of racism in America. When I finished processing this horrific event it was around 10 and I began to scramble to turn in my attendance form and get started on my work but I couldn’t focus. Trigonometry is so unimportant compared to everything else that was going on. It’s impossible to care about The Book Thief when my people are living through a genocide right that seems to have no end in sight no matter how many protests we organize, hashtags we make, or evidence we gather.

How many more strange fruit will have to hang before a change is made and will I be one of them?