On May 2, 2018, I learned my 14-year-old brother had been shot. After rushing to the hospital with my sister, we learned the report stating my brother was shot in the arm was false. Instead, he was shot in the chest. Upon entering St. Louis Children’s Hospital and waiting to be escorted by the police to the floor my brother was on, my sister and I received the dreaded call — our brother had died.
To say this moment was surreal is an understatement. To learn that my brother was an unarmed victim of gun violence in his own home filled me with many emotions. And, as I write you in this moment with tears streaming down my face, I can now tell you that losing a loved one to an epidemic that plagues Black and Brown communities is not only sad, but angering.
Angering that I recognize two young men lost their lives on May 2 — my brother and the 13-year-old boy who shot him. Another child.
Angering that I personally know what it feels like to have my heart permanently damaged by a violent occurrence that’s become all too commonplace.
Angering that since Blacks were forced into manual slavery that built the United States of America, the systemic design of disinvesting and disempowering our communities had a larger role to play in the situation that took my brother from his family, friends and future.
Angering that I always knew systems of oppression, inequalities and inequities were by design, and the taking of my brother’s life was one drop in the ripple effect of racial inequities.
Angering that while Creative Reaction Lab is working to educate and deploy youth leadership to address racial inequities impacting Black and Latinx populations, I couldn’t save my brother and the young Black male who committed the act.
And, the truth is, while we know that dismantling systems takes extensive time, we’re faced with the reality that each day we lose a bright light (or more) in our communities — like my brother Oscar Johnson III (also known as OJ or Juiceman).