There is an African-American life, whose existence is in danger of being compromised by systemic racism every day. Simple actions that most of us might not think twice about can easily lead to the last words or thoughts of the next victim.
Not all injustices end in a fatality—microaggressions, racism and systemic threats are pervasive threats to all Black people. George Floyd's tragic death shifted the public sentiment around The Black Lives Matter Movement, creating new opportunities for awareness and change.
Although Black Americans make up roughly 13% of the US population, they are killed by police at more than twice the rate of their white counterparts. The fatality rate for Black Americans at the hands of police stands at 31 people per million of the population, while for White Americans it is 13/million.1
Another corollary to the number thirteen is the Thirteenth Amendment of the constitution. Jamal Greene and Jennifer Mason McAward summarize this landmark legislation as follows. The true abolition of slavery was achieved when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865. The first section of the Amendment declares: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The Amendment is unique in the Constitution because it bars every person from holding slaves or engaging in other forms of involuntary servitude, whereas most constitutional provisions only constrain or regulate the government. It is unique in another way as well: although the Constitution obliquely acknowledged and accommodated slavery in its original text, the Thirteenth Amendment was the first explicit mention of slavery in the Constitution.2
What follows are thirteen portraits of Black Americans and their infamous encounters with the police.