Erica Garner didn’t make it to 2018. She suffered a second and fatal heart attack on December 23, 2017 — almost five months after delivering her second child — a son named Eric — after her late father — Eric Garner — whose death in 2014 made headlines — due to its tragically graphic nature.
Erica had no choice but to take to the streets for revenge — after her father was placed in a chokehold position by an NYPD police officer who was snatching the breath out of a helpless Black man who was desperately pleading for his life. The helpless victim managed to summon enough strength to utter the now haunting words that will forever serve as the banner of why Black Lives don’t Matter:
“I can’t breathe!”
Eric Garner can be heard saying those words over and over again and apparently after the eleventh time he became unconsciousness. He eventually died — despite failed attempts by the murderous cops to revive him. His death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner who noted that Garner died as a result of:
“a compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
Garner’s murder occurred in the midst of a potently chaotic climate that saw a disturbing surge in police brutality — as Black victims were falling like dominoes. Social media responsively evolved into the landscape of awareness — as videos and images captured the activities of protesters and solidified the horrifying plight of Black Lives.
The protesters on foot and with keyboards didn’t succeed in their quest for justice for Eric Garner. The officer responsible for his death was acquitted — which is remarkable when you consider how vividly atrocious his killing was — and the indisputable facts on display.
Erica Garner lost her father when she was only twenty-four and now she’s dead at twenty-seven.
Her passing is a sorrowful rite of passage that depicts the weightiness of being part of an unfairly targeted dynasty that was destined for the paralyzingly path of premature martyrdom.
The young Black woman who was scheduled to die before her time accomplished a roster of achievements that most take a lifetime to log in:
She never stopped holding the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio accountable and spent the better days of her young life being an active justice seeker.
Approximately a month after her father’s death during a botched attempt to arrest him for “allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes” — she began to stage weekly marches to the site of his murder — and this twice a week ritual was described as “a die-in’ by the media.
She also supported the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement and frequently participated in “demonstrations and other protest events.”
She set up a foundation in her father’s name — the Garner Way Foundation. The mission: “to engage communities all over the world in social justice issues through political awareness, music, arts and activism.”
So, all Erica Garner needs is your respect.
She doesn’t need her death to be manipulated into the analysis of her departure or weaponized by those who need to be heard — through her misfortune — or others who are adamant that their Whiteness earns them the right to criticize the notion of their journalistic dismissal.
She deserves to be honored for how much of her short life was spent fighting the fight — on behalf of those she loved — and those who will be born to love her in the years to come.
She deserves to be memorialized as the freedom fighter she was — despite her impressionable age and the fact that she was forced to recognize her greatness way before her White counterparts are even able to manifest such responsibility.
She should have her name plastered on every street corner in the nation — including the corridors of The White House (after it ceases to be The Shit House) and the walls of City Hall in every localized district.
She needs the national honor of a hero that never had the privilege of wearing a shimmery black outfit to an award show as her show of protest — and instead had to settle for the grittiness of the streets — overflowing with bloody screams of victims — past and present.
She must be embedded in the culture of notables that sacrificed body and soul in the name of equality against the beast of a system — that was designed to enhance the speedy elimination of Black people — by any means necessary — with the full backing of those in power who are endorsed by a criminal government.
She should be exalted by women of all races who look to her with pride and seamless adulation as they render her an example of astute feminism that will never be matched — now and forever.
Erica Garner should never be forgotten or diluted with threats of controversies that serve only to belittle and downplay the epic contribution she garnered with loving loyalty— as well as the gorgeous legacy she leaves behind.
She deserved to live a long life — powered by her burgeoning artistry, beauty, passion, intelligence, motivation, compassion, enlightenment and spiritual grace. She was supposed to be given the opportunity to fully embrace the treasured blessing of being an American citizen — with all the gems of that existence that is readily afforded White women — who aren’t capable of relieving themselves from the cushion of White feminism long enough to be proper allies to a cause they will never fully grasp.
Despite the betrayal of a heart that was broken in pieces that were too many to re-build — the echo of each beat will continue to permeate through the vessels and valves of those accused.
The ones who condemn acts of violence without considering the impact on their own lives — because of the glorious anthem that erupts when bodies litter the streets in defiance and in honor of the heartbeats belonging to lifeless carcasses.
For all this and more — let’s give Erica Garner the respect she was forced to accrue with the finality of death.