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OP-ED: The Sister Epidemic




CourtneyThomasBy Courtney Thomas, student at Laney College

Oakland has become a very dangerous place to live. There are shootings happening every day, and every time you turn around someone is getting killed. Although I have lived in Oakland for 21 years, I’ve never seen a dead body but I have seen guns and drugs all my life.

< p class=”p3″>I am a sister of an older brother that is in the street life – that’s my reality. My brother lets me know things that I need to know – or like he says, he “puts me up on game” — so I can be aware of the things going on and keep myself safe. We’ve developed a relationship that is unbreakable. My brother is my best friend — I tell him everything and he does the same. But I am always dreading a knock on the door where I could be told that my brother has been killed.

The epidemic of gun violence directly affects the women in our community. As women, we have to worry about our fathers, sons, cousins, nephews, and in my case, my brother, being gunned down. People don’t understand that we are the ones that hurt the most because of the loss.

Here in Oakland, people take revenge on friends and loved ones when someone kills someone that they know. Naturally, I’m afraid whenever he leaves the house. I hear a knock on the door and I hesitate to answer — thinking that someone is going to give me the worst news of my life.

On August 16, 2013 I had to experience the pain and hurt of losing someone that was very close to me. He was shot down in Sobrante Park. This event took a toll on me and I began to worry about my brother more because he was really close to the man gunned down in the park.

Shortly after, there was a shooting on 104th and International. I woke up to a phone call from my friend asking me what happened and I was confused when the person began to tell me about the event. The first thing I did was go to look for my brother. I didn’t care about anyone else; I just wanted to make sure my brother was okay. My heart was beating so fast it was crazy. When I found out that he was okay, my heart was at peace.

However, April 24, 2014 might have been the saddest day of all. My brother got a phone call from his dad to go check on our cousin but when he got over there, police were surrounding the area. Eventually we found out it was because my cousin was laying dead in her car – she had been shot in the head.

The gun violence needs to stop in Oakland. It’s only getting worse. I sit and worry about my younger siblings, especially my little brother who is 14 and getting ready to start high school – the place where the violence is starting.