In response to the tragic passings of Jameela Dirrean-Emoni Barber, 17, and Skylar Herbert, 5, David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, released the following statement:
“We have come to a point in the current crisis where almost everyone knows someone who we have lost, and Black communities know this most of all. Our hearts are with the families of Jameela and Skylar, both gone far too soon, including for reasons connected to the COVID-19 and the cracks in our society that make Black people more vulnerable. Jameela was only 17, a star student, and had no known underlying conditions. Skyler was only 5, the youngest to die thus far in Michigan.
“These are our babies. Not a single one among them asked to be born. We must do all we can to protect Black girls and Black communities. Black people continue to work on the frontlines from grocery stores to hospitals to food processing plants and, as a result, continue to face drastic rates of infection and serious complications associated with COVID-19. While states begin to re-open slowly, many workers are without the option to not return to work and many still don’t have paid sick leave, still don’t have healthcare. Too many Black people are being forced to work and risk their lives — and their families’ lives — to pay rent, buy groceries, and meet other basic human needs. We must address these issues so we can protect our communities and our babies. This work is important so that Black people are able to survive the current physical health, economic, and mental health crises.”