The shooting of Jacob Blake has again evoked the demons of racism and systemic oppression against Black lives in America.
On Tuesday Jacob Blake’s sister Letetra Widman spoke plainly about her brother, a Wisconsin man who was shot in the back over seven times, spoke out as her brother lay in recovery, now paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot multiple times by Kenosha officers on Sunday.
She took to the microphone to tie history with the intermittent pain held within the bones of Black people in America.
“I am my brother’s keeper and when you say the name Jacob Blake, make you say father, make sure you say cousin, make sure you say son, make sure you say uncle, but most importantly, make sure you say human, human life,” she began.
There are no words to account for her anguish, as she talked directly to the crowd sharing words that have been surmounted over and over in our 400 years walking this country’s soil. Letetra wanted to make sure that her brother was regarded as human, a statement that should be assumed, but we know all to well isn’t.
“Let it marinate in your mouth, in your minds—a human life just like every single one of y’all. We’re human and his life matters. So many people have reached out to me telling me they’re sorry that this happened to my family. Well don’t be sorry because this has been happening to my family for a long time, longer than I can account for.
“It happened to Emmett Till. Emmett Till is my family. Philando, Mike Brown, Sandra. This has been happening to my family. And I’ve shed tears for every single one of these people that it’s happened to. This is nothing new. I’m, not sad, I’m not sorry. I’m angry and I’m tired. I haven’t cried one time. I stopped crying years ago. I am numb. I have been watching police murder people who look like me for years. I’m also a Black history minor. So not only have I been watching it in the 30 years that I’ve been on this planet, but I’ve been watching it for years before we were even alive. I’m not sad, I don’t want your pity, I want change.”
It’s always heartbreaking yet moving to see someone who is able to speak truth to power even in the midst of unspeakable grief. It is also equally disturbing to see the continuation of violence at the hands of police on Black communities.
The ongoing unrest over Blake’s shooting in Wisconsin continued into the evening. Hours after Letretra’s speech, two people were shot and killed, while one was injured, CNN reports. An investigation into the shootings are ongoing, as the names and ages of the victims are being withheld.
We are continuing to send support and encouragement to Blake and his family.