Ralph Yarl’s Story: Another Reminder of Being Black In America
Another Reminder that Black Immigrants Aren’t an Exception
Last weekend in Kansas City, Missouri, sixteen year old Ralph Yarl rang a doorbell thinking it was a family friend’s house, only to be shot and almost killed by a white man.
Ralph’s family is from Liberia; another reminder that anti-Black violence is a danger to all of us, regardless of our citizenship or immigration status. No amount of exceptionalism would have protected Ralph, just as it won’t protect any of us. Neither Black ‘excellence’ nor ‘foreignness’ provide sanctuary from white violence.
It is often a rude awakening for many Black immigrants when they experience racialized violence in the US. When in 2022, Patrick Lyoya was killed during a traffic stop by police in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his mother said their family fled the Republic of Congo because of war, believing that the United States was a safe haven. “I’m surprised and astonished to see that it was here my son was killed with a bullet.”
When Ralph’s aunt said “You never feel it will happen to you or your family” she expressed what so many of us have been led to believe. The sad truth that must be acknowledged: it absolutely can and has happened to Black immigrants.
Patrick Lyoya, Alfred Olango, Irv Otieno, Charley Keunang, Shantel Davis, Kisha Michael, Bade Al Jabir and Amadou Diallo were not killed because of their citizenship or immigration status: they were killed because they were Black in an anti-Black society.
We are thankful that Ralph Yarl survived this attack and is home healing with his family. We look forward to his family receiving justice . BAJI continues in our efforts to protect our community members by providing the political education, power-building, and other tools necessary to dismantle white supremacy and fight for racial justice.