I No Longer Watch Videos of Black People Being Killed by Police: Please Stop Saying I Should

An open letter to white readers

Sondra Rose Marie
4 min readFeb 7


Photo by Davi Moreira on Unsplash

For five years, I waited tables at a quirky theme restaurant in Beverly Hills. In my time there, I watched a lot of co-workers come and go but today I want to tell you about Evan. Evan was a white guy from a well-off family. Rather than live off of his family’s wealth, Evan wanted to shirk his privilege for a bit and sling it in the trenches with everyone hustling to pay rent. Despite a tendency to get pretentious when we discussed movies, I liked Evan a lot and we got on well.

One night, we were deliberating the best films we’d seen in the last few years and Evan bought up the Academy Award-winning 12 Years a Slave. I let him wax on about the importance of the film for a bit before I cut him off. “I haven’t seen it,” I told him. “I don’t really intend to.”

Evan was aghast. “It’s amazing! You have to see it! You just have to,” he told me.

“No, Evan, I don’t.” I looked him in the eye and spoke more forcefully, hoping he’d hear what I had to say. “I know a lot about slavery and I don’t need to see a movie depicting it to get how bad it was. 12 Years a Slave is a movie made for you. It’s not for me.”

Last month, I woke up on a Friday morning to learn that the videos documenting the murder of Tyre Nichols would be released later that day. Instantly, my stomach sank.

I know the pain of consuming media confirming that people who look like me die simply because of their beautiful brown skin. It’s a pain I first felt with the release of George Zimmerman’s 911 call as he murdered Trayvon Martin. Then again as Diamond Reynolds live-streamed from her car immediately after her boyfriend, Philandro Castile, was murdered by police. I’ve felt that pain with the release of footage and audio from the deaths of Korryn Gaines, Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others.

The pain, anger, and fear caused by consuming these recordings is debilitating. I’ve written briefly about how I ceased to function in 2020 as Black Lives Matter protests swept the streets.

After a lot of therapy and internal reflection…



Sondra Rose Marie

I write about things people don't bring up in polite conversation: race, death, mental health, and so much more ✨ www.srmcreative.co