Honestie Hodges died Sunday at the age of 14 from COVID-19. Honestie’s handcuffing outside her home by the police in Grand Rapid, Mich. when she was 11 caused a national uproar and led to a new law enforcement policy on dealing with youths. In announcing her death, her grandmother said that she could have been vice president one day, or maybe the president.” In Honestie’s short life, she battled both the pandemics of racial injustice and COVID-19. Her life and death are a stark reminder of the failure of the government to protect the most vulnerable of our society. While we applaud the reforms that came from Honestie’s treatment by police, it is a stain on the fabric of her life that she should not have had to endure or die with.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a dark and ugly truth that many Black Americans already know, that Black people in this country have been living under the pandemic of racism since the year 1619. COVID-19 mortality is inequitably impacting Black and minority communities. And as the death of George Floyd and others have exposed, the pandemic of racial injustice has not taken a break. Black Americans are still dealing with the daily indignities of racism that are often inflicted upon them.
Honestie’s death is a stark reminder of the toll that COVID-19 and racial injustice take on Black youth. While we applaud the reforms that came from Honestie’s treatment by police, it is a stain on the fabric of her life that she should not have had to endure or die with. A promising life was cut short. She should be remembered not for what she endured but what she could have become but for racism and inequality.