Tears for Diamond’s Daughter

(Image via MTV.com)

 

“It's okay, Mommy, I'm right here with you,’ the girl says.”

These are the words of a four-year old child comforting her mother after the unjustified shooting death of someone she loves by someone whose job it is to protect and serve.  Imagine the sound of the gunshot ringing in the ears of a young child and the smell of death as Philando Castile lay dying in the front seat—the little girl just inches away forced to endure misery far beyond her years. 

I don’t know this little girl’s name and in this context it doesn’t matter.  But it does matter that she is Black and she is a four-year old child.  This portrayal seems to escape many journalist telling her story.  Mostly, she is referred to as “the girl” not as a “little girl” or even a “four-year old child.”  There is meaning in these designations when she is not portrayed as a child.  In denying her this description, compassion for the trauma she endured is diminished.

As I think of her, my thoughts turn to the centuries of slavery in this country that Black children endured.   At four years old, these children were tending the fields or tending to the master’s family.  For whatever her given name, she was likely referred to simply as “girl”, undeserving of a childhood and even more undeserving of a name—she was invisible.  Consciously or not, to some, this image of Black children is embedded in their psyche, it is structural in their thinking, and it is destructive to our children’s lives. 

This four-year old little girl deserved a childhood.  She deserved the right to a family outing without it ending with splattered blood, without the smell of fear permeating and death invading her sacred space as she tries to hold onto to what she knows and give comfort with a child’s heart to those she loves.  So, don’t refer to this little girl as “the girl.”  It’s okay if you don’t know her name but when writing or speaking about her remember that she is a four-year old child deserving of all of the love and protection that our society can muster, without exception, for every child.   

Today, I shed tears for Diamond’s four-year old daughter.  I shed tears for the loss of her innocence and the loss of her childhood.  Embrace this little girl as you tell her story so that she knows it is okay to not be wise beyond her years—she is just a little girl.    

by Donita Judge, Esq.