“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
On the same day as the untimely death of the musical legend, Prince, there was another untimely death that was a lot closer to home. This death, however, could have been prevented. Sixteen-year-old Amy Inita Joyner-Francis was murdered in a school fight after she was jumped in the bathroom of Howard High School of Technology, in Wilmington, Delaware. Unlike Prince, who had the opportunity to make his mark and become a global icon, Amy’s opportunity was stolen from her.
Many times, when we hear about young black victims of violence, the negative comments about the victims and their families will soon follow. I saw them after a quick scan of Facebook. Where was her family? Why weren’t they involved in her life? Why was she fighting over a boy? She must be trifling. And the victim shaming continued. Yet, these questions and comments were so misaligned. I believe this is why so many news outlets quickly picked up this story, even in the midst of Prince’s death, which was just a measly couple of hours later. Generally, news outlets don’t/won’t say our names. We are the forgotten ones—seemingly just a quick news bite on a slow news day.
So what was different? Amy and her attackers went to a good school. Amy was a good student; in fact, she was an honor roll student. Amy was the manager of the wrestling team. Amy was the one who diffused fights…not start them. And here’s the big one…Amy’s parents were actively involved in her life. She was the antithesis of the black girl that this is supposed to happen to. She was the old me. She could be the former you. She could be your sister, niece, cousin, or daughter.
Amy not only had the map to be a great and successful woman, but she already was well into the journey. We are in a world where women, and specifically black women, are still trying to crack glass ceilings, let alone break them. People like Bethenny Frankel continue to attach shutters to those ceilings by telling women in 2016 to sleep your way to the top and telling black women to hire white men to be the face of their companies. Yet, I see that Amy could have powerfully blown through those shutters like a gale-force wind, finally breaking those glass ceilings once and for all.
I don’t have any answers on how to move forward when she and her family followed the right path. So all I can do is say her name and memorialize her legacy in writing. Amy could have been a legend and an icon that broke barriers within her community and around the world. She could have made an impact that created change for decades to come. She could have been great.
On April 21, 2016, the world lost a great person. Her impact and potential was stolen from us, and I am sitting here wondering what could have been. Remembering Amy…
#SayHerName #AmyJoyner #RIPAmy
“The tragedy of Tupac is that his untimely passing is representative of too many young black men in this country…If we had lost Oprah Winfrey at 25, we would have lost a relatively unknown, local market TV anchorwoman. If we had lost Malcolm X at 25, we would have lost a hustler named Detroit Red. And if I had left the world at 25, we would have lost a big-band trumpet player and aspiring composer–just a sliver of my eventual life potential.”