Just 90 Seconds

DC carjacking victim Mohammad Anwar image courtesy of localdvm.com

Just 90 seconds.

All it took was 90 seconds for viral footage of the two teenage Black girls who in the course of carjacking a 66 year-old Uber Eats driver, Mohammad Anwar, resulting in his tragic death, for many on social media to express their outrage and call for the harshest punishments possible (even the death penalty) for the two underage perpetrators.

But to be honest, a lot of the outrage was performative with some not even knowing the victim’s name. Others shamelessly used his unfortunate death as an excuse to unleash their partisan venom or spew their racist takes.

I, too, was outraged after watching the horror unfold for 90 seconds. And then for it to be punctuated by one of the girls who had the audacity to ask about her cell phone that was still inside the overturned Honda, while Mr. Anwar lay just feet away, motionless in a crumpled heap on the sidewalk. I wanted to shout at them, “What the hell is wrong with you?!” and “Have y’all lost your damn minds?!”

But I had to examine my own outrage to understand that I was mostly angry at the fact that these were teenage Black girls who had behaved in such a despicable way prompting the American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee to ask that Mohammad Anwar’s death be investigated as a hate crime. And who could blame them given the explicitness of the footage?

Even so, I could not let my outrage blind me to the fact these are still two teenage Black girls.

It was later reported that a plea deal was being offered to the two minors which many wrongfully interpreted as the girls would go unpunished. That it was a show of leniency because the defendants are Black. Again, wrong. The 13 year old by law cannot be tried as an adult. So in order for the prosecution to hold both girls accountable for the death of Mohammad Anwar a plea agreement was made.

And then I jumped on a Twitter thread and scrolled down to a tweet thinking that maybe I was being overly critical of my fellow Americans:

So I liked the tweet and then replied:

And this is what happened:

Others called the girls monsters, cold blooded killers, and sociopaths. And keeping their ages (ages 15 and 13) in mind, many felt they were beyond rehabilitation. That the only way for the grieving family of Mohammad Anwar to receive justice is for these girls to be locked away for the rest of their lives or “put down” as one disgruntled Twitter user tweeted.

And all it took was 90 seconds for their young lives to become forfeit. But their deplorable actions are not the actions of hardened career criminals. At best, they are careless and reckless acts indicative of adolescent minds that are often prone to making poor life choices without proper guidance.

And it’s no secret why so many feel they are able to determine that these girls possessed no redeeming qualities without knowing anything more about them other than the 90 seconds of recorded footage. It’s a painful truth that we as African Americans have always known.

If it only takes a minute and a half to convince people that the lives of two teenage Black girls have absolutely no value at all then they were never convinced that their lives had any value to begin with.