Who decides the value of a human life? In today’s world, we have politicians who choose who to advocate for and how to destroy. We have police officers who choose who to treat with respect and dignity and who receive hatred and cruelty. We have businessmen who pour their money into corrupt systems and sit on their high horse as people are struggling to afford necessities. It is this system that created the circumstances for Jaahnavi Kandula’s cruel murder.
Jaahnavi Kandula was a bright grad student from India; she came to the States to earn a degree and support her single mother who remained in India. Despite making less than $200 a month, her mother pushed Jaahnavi to pursue higher education in the U.S. so that she could live a better life abroad.
Jaahnavi was fatally struck in a Seattle crosswalk by a city police car responding to a call. This occurred in January, 8 months after the body-worn police camera footage was released and captured a phone call between two Seattle officers; “But she is dead,” says Officer Auderer before laughing in response to the person on the phone. “No, it’s a regular person,” Auderer continues, “Yeah, just write a check. Yeah, $11,000. She was 26 anyway,” he adds, mistaking Kandula’s age. “She had limited value.”
These insensible comments about a beloved woman who was a daughter and beyond any dollar value are outrageous. It doesn’t stop at these comments, it goes deeper into this idea of whose life has value and whose doesn’t. For decades, women, especially women of color and immigrants have been perceived as being of less value. I am tired of not being taken seriously. I am tired of this hierarchical system that places white straight men above everybody. I am especially tired of our society’s concern with value. This is about treating every single person with respect and creating a system that fosters unconditional respect and dignity for all.