Four people I grew up were charged as adults and sentenced to life in prison and they were 16 and under (the youngest was 14) for murder. They did it. That’s not my issue.

They were guilty and they forever changed the lives of the victims’ families, friends, and community. But all this talk of White kids who commit mass murders and the humanizing of them, and the “science” being used that brains aren’t fully developed until 24, to keep them “human.”Meanwhile, one of my childhood friends is turning 35 and has been in prison since he was 15.

No one, including me, ever saw him as a victim.

It’s confusing to be Black in America. You are constantly sent different messages about murderers.

The fact that White people get to decide whether murderers are mentally ill, thugs, terrorists, animals, or standing their ground, is not only racist; it’s rage-inducing.

I want my friends to be humanized too. They were children. They had traumatic childhoods. But they were poor, Black, gang-members, so they don’t get backstories. It would be nice if they could be seen as human and that Black people would fight for their humanity like White people fight for the humanity of White kids who are murderers.

Racism is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting.

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