By all accounts 16-year-old Reggina Jefferies was a promising young woman. The Oakland teen was gearing up for her senior year in high school this coming fall, and had just performed a praise dance at a memorial service for two of her friends, when her life was tragically cut short.
Jefferies’ mother, Onika Wilson, had spoken to her daughter moments before her young life was snuffed out during a vigil for two of her friends who drowned on Memorial Day. During the gathering, shots suddenly rang out near the crowd and three people were injured. Jefferies, sadly, was killed.
“I called my daughter at 5:25 and asked her if she was okay and she said yes,” Wilson told reporters. “I got a phone call that my daughter had been shot at 5:36.”
Now, all that’s left for Wilson are the memories of her beautiful daughter—and the pain, always the pain, of losing her in such a violent way.
“If anybody out there knows anything out there please, please let me know anything. I need justice,” Wilson pleaded.
As our nation grieves the horrific loss of life in Orlando and remembers the nine people who were slain at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston last June, people like Jefferies—promising teens; hardworking parents; babies who never got to experience life—fall victim to gun violence every single day. In fact, according to the Brady Campaign, a group that’s pushing for sensible gun control laws, 89 people die from gun violence daily.
For the past six years I’ve written about victims, particularly Black female victims, whose lives have been snuffed out by America’s addiction to handling every single slight, every dispute, every perceived threat with a gun.
And I’m tired.
Another mother should not have to bury her child; another father shouldn’t be turned into a RIP mural or a hashtag instead of making it home to his family.
While mass shootings shock our collective conscious and force politicians into action (or the appearance of action), our country’s metropolitan areas—Chicago, Los Angles, Oakland, New Orleans, Miami—regularly deal with multiple shootings and murders every single weekend.
The violence is so normal folks barely bat an eye when news of yet another shooting around the way manages to make it to the ten-o’clock news. Though the murder rate has significantly decreased since the 1990s (yes, even in Chicago), shooting are still claiming far too many of our people’s lives.
When will it end?
We can discuss the systematic reasons neighborhoods of color are plagued with violence, we can talk about gun control, we can opine about the need to do something about so-called Black-on-Black crime. But until the powers that be—those we elect to actually do something—actually do something to enact real change, young people, like Reggina Jefferies will continue to lose their lives.
And for that, we’ll all suffer.
Britni Danielle is the Senior Digital Editor for EBONY.com. Catch her tweeting @BritniDWrites.