I get it, we like to associate things to celebrities because that’s how our world works: we know them and treat them like family and think of them as our friends. So when we hear that Dwyane Wade’s cousin is killed, we instantly care more. The news stations drop his name every chance they get with the story, making sure we know that “NBA Star Dwyane Wade’s Cousin” was shot. They can get through an entire story without saying her name, and it’s almost like a personal victory for them.
Here’s the deal: Nykea Aldridge was more than a cousin. She was a mother of more than one child. She was a daughter. She was a victim of gun violence, specifically that instigated by two men who were both not supposed to be in the possession of a gun. She was one person, and there are more.
In fact, seven people were killed in Chicago alone August 19 through August 22. Seven. Including an eight year old girl. An eight year old girl who most people reading this will have just heard of. If you’re interested in hearing more about them, or the 47 people who were injured during that weekend, here’s the CBS Chicago article on that weekend.
If I seem overly passionate about this, then it might be worth noting that I have been feeling this same fierce frustration since the Olympics started. Michael Phelps is a great athlete and I respect him for that, but I also cannot stand hearing his name. I heard so many people refer to other US Swim Team members as “Michael Phelps’ teammate” or “that guy who isn’t Michael, I don’t know his name but it’s not important.”
If you do something in this world, if you accomplish one single thing before you die, do you want to be remembered for it? I think we all can say yes. Madeline Dirado, Allison Schmitt, Anthony Ervin, Chase Kalisz… They’re olympic swimmers for Team USA who walked away with a medal (or more.) Most of which were probably labeled as “Michael Phelps’ Teammate” at some point in time by some news outlet.
When you hear a name on the news, acknowledge that it’s a person. When you hear about someone’s cousin, someone’s teammate, and you don’t hear their name, then demand it. Tweet, text, call or post. Nykea deserves it. Anthony deserves it, Allison deserves it. Stop accepting that Dwyane Wade is the person worth mentioning. Stop accepting that Michael Phelps is the only name worth noting. Let’s give them the same respect we can only hope for in life.