On Saturday night, Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old black boy who was said to be well-liked, died after Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver fired his gun at the car in which Edwards was riding. Oliver shot Edwards in the head, and Edwards succumbed to the wound at a nearby hospital.
When I first saw Edwards’s school picture on Monday, I smiled. The cheesy background, the adolescent forehead acne, the half-smile—like he wanted to bare his teeth but knew that would slash his cool in half—were all familiar. It’s the kind of photo I remember putting in my middle-school diary—scored from a boy I had a crush on, after giving him mine. I wondered whether Edwards gave his crush this school photo, and if the crush pasted it in their diary with a heart around it like I once did.
And then I remembered Edwards was dead and that the diary entries of those who knew and loved him would never be about him as a person who lives.
The story of a black boy shot dead by law enforcement is a regrettably commonplace one at this point. Last year The Washington Post found that even though black Americans represent only 13 percent of the population, they are 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by law enforcement. The photo of Edwards feels particularly reminiscent of the widely circulated photo of Jordan Davis, another teen who was shot in a car by a white man, in 2012.
Each time a black boy is shot and killed we go through the same trauma. A photo of the boy is released, his sweet, pimply face imprinted in our minds. And every time this happens we think, “Maybe, just maybe this will be the boy who gets justice.”