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  • Azure Onyewu

The Case of Botham Jean Shows That Black People Are Never Truly Safe

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Many people have already forgotten the story of Botham Jean, a black man who was shot and killed in his own apartment by Amber Guyger, a white lady who thought the apartment was her own. The story in and of itself is sickening and reflects the incredibly widespread racism and unjust killing of African Americans in the United States.

On the evening of September 6, 2018, Amber Guyger, a former police officer, entered Botham’s apartment as he was sitting watching the T.V. and eating ice-cream. Thinking that an intruder was in her home, Guyger pulled out her gun and shot Botham Jean in the chest, killing her very own neighbor.

Not only did Guyger mistakenly enter into his home, but Botham Jean was unarmed and not threatening in any way, shape, or form. When asked why she decided to fire, Amber Guyger replied, “Because I was scared. I was scared that this person inside my apartment was going to kill me.”

But why was she scared? Was it because Botham Jean appeared threatening and genuinely was going to kill her, or did it have to do with the instilled fear in whites and other members of society of African American men?

Amber Guyger has since been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder, but her sentence will not bring back the life of Botham Jean. Jean’s mother, father, and friends will never see him again. This is why police brutality and racism need to stop. Death is irreversible, and the lives of African Americans like Botham Jean, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and thousands of others cannot be replaced.

As an African American woman living in the United States, I feel disgusted and ashamed that inequality and injustice towards the African American community still occurs today. Seeing, reading, and hearing countless stories of the unfair treatment of black people in America impacts me deeply, and when these events happen to one member of my community, I feel as though it happens to me.

When will it all end? My father and brothers should never have to feel afraid of police officers, the very people who are supposed to protect us. How can I be sure they will not be next?

A man in his own home, minding his own business lost his life. This is not okay. Overall, tragic stories like that of Botham Jean and numerous others should be used to highlight the unjust treatment of so many African Americans in this country and inspire us, even those outside of the black community, to create change.

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