by Chinyce Cole-Henry, Black Youth Leadership Project
On this day we relived the death of Nia Wilson when we attended a rally in Oakland protesting some of the news coverage of her murder on BART. She was only 18 when she and her sister were getting off a BART train at the MacArthur station and were both stabbed by a white man. Nia’s sister Latifah survived.
Her family has had to relive that evening’s horror over and over again. The first time was when her family learned her throat had been slit. The second time when it hit the news.
The third time when she was dehumanized on television. The TV news used a picture of her talking on a cell phone, but it looked like a gun and suggested to some people that she was a criminal. That picture should not have been used.
And so over and over again we call out her name.
Her family wakes up and has a moment of peace – until they remember the events from just days ago. Every day, they must remember in horror the past events. They relive the death of their daughter or sister every single day.
We have to relive it too when we think about it, talk about it, say her name. It may seem easier to distance ourselves from the painful thought of losing a loved one or of our being the victim.
We may retreat into the blissful silence of ignorance. Because ignorance makes you feel less empty, but it also leads you to lack empathy.
There is no reason we should lack the courage to have empathy. This is why we show up and learn from rallying together. From supporting a cause, a historical cause that keeps on reincarnating itself in new forms.
No more lynching! We do not need another Nia Wilson – similar to how the Black people of the United States don’t deserve a second slavery.
So therefore we must relive this young women’s death; we must say her name. Then we must take action for a better reality that is long overdue.
Writer Chinyce Cole-Henry and photographer Sydney Shaw were among the students in the Sacramento-based Black Youth Leadership Project (BYLP) who visited the Bay View on July 26 with their leader, Allegra Taylor, after joining the protest for Nia Wilson in Oakland. BYLP establishes, develops and implements educational programs for Black youth in the areas of leadership development, public speaking, the legislative process, public service, cultural awareness and identity. Learn more at https://www.bylp.org/.