Crystal Pennell is a sophomore telecommunications journalism major and writes "Over the Rainbow" for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Crystal at

Think of the place where the walls are so thin you could hear the family upstairs argue every night. The place where you would lock your doors and roll up your windows. The place where cops stopped at every day, whether there was a reason or not. The place where the sun doesn’t seem to shine as bright as it does everywhere else. What do you call that place? 

The ghetto? The hood?  The slums?

To me, I called it the Village, the place I spent the last 9 years of my life. The place where my little brother grew up. The place I played acorn ball on the streets with my friends and stitch on the townhome walls. The place where I met my best friend, now boyfriend, Darnell. 

The place I thought I was going to lose my brother...All over a BB gun.  Fear has never crushed my being more than that day -- the day I saw my 11-year-old brother on his knees, crying and with his hands up, while a police officer charges with his gun out...

We didn’t sleep that night or the next. 

This happened months after the Tamir Rice case in 2014. 

Last year, Alton Sterling was shot and killed in close range by police during an attempted arrest. 

That same year was the year I almost lost Darnell the same way. Only difference was he was work at a grocery store. He looked suspicious while bagging. He was held on the ground to be searched. All he asked was “why?” and that was enough to almost have his life taken away from his family and me. 

It’s instances like these that make you want to hold your loved ones a little closer, a little tighter. Remind them that you love them. 

But I guess you wouldn’t if this didn’t affect you because it wasn’t YOUR little brother. It wasn’t YOUR best friend. It was just another brown boy or black kid, right? And the police were just doing their jobs.

That’s the problem, most don’t understand these are fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters that are dying.

United States Citizens are dying because of their skin. 

In 2017 alone, 207 black people have been killed by police. Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed than any other minority. 

How many times have you heard that statistic? How many times does it have to be said? Because people of color, like my brother and Darnell, are still falling very close to these numbers. And the way the justice system is set up, that’s all they’ll be if they were to be killed; A statistic. 

All those memories, all that life, to be turned into a number. 

I think change needs to start within the policing core. The slogan is to Serve and Protect the people. The people of America, American’s, right? Isn’t my brother an American? Darnell? At the end of the day it’s one nation under God, indivisible… with liberty and justice for all… right?