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Why Black People Are Writing Their Own Obituaries

Why Black People Are Writing Their Own Obituaries

Ja’han Jones
Ja'han Jones

One New York City writer is giving people the opportunity to have final control over their narrative.

The Black Obituary Project, a sobering new project, gives black men and women an opportunity to self-author their obituary, in an attempt to allow people to control their own narratives in case they, like many other black men and women, fall victim to fatal police violence.

"So often, we are killed and our photos are posted about but our stories are not," project creator and New York City-based writer Ja'han Jones told The Huffington Post. "This grants black folks agency we're often denied in death. We are telling our stories -- speaking of our triumphs and tragedies -- before anyone else attempts to do so for us."

Many times the stories that come out about black victims of police violence contain their criminal history or societal transgressions, rather than including information that depicts them as human beings with families and with loved ones who are mourning over their loss. This project "gives black people an opportunity to tell the world about their strengths, imperfections and values" wrote HuffPo.

For example, Alternet wrote that when Michael Brown was shot in 2014, the New York Times said, "Mike Brown was no angel," referring to surveillance footage that showed Brown stealing a box of cigars on the day he was shot. Brown was one example of the "demonization of black victims of police violence" wrote Alternet.

This project hopes to reclaim the agency denied to black victims of fatal police shootings, Jones told HuffPo, and he hopes it will empower people to realize they should be the ones in control of their own story.

The Black Obituary Project continues to accept submissions on their website.

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