OPINION: Don’t Feed Into People Using Deaths of Gyovanny Arzuaga and Yasmin Perez to Fuel Anti-Black Narratives

Jun 24, 2021
2:02 PM

Yasmin Perez and Gyovanny Arzuaga

My friend José direct messaged me a tweet from Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot on Monday afternoon. Mayor Lightfoot had been celebrating the 43rd annual Chicago-held Puerto Rican Day Parade. I scanned the photos. I responded, “Dope!” and kept it moving.

“No, look,” he wrote back. “The comments. Horrifying.”

In the replies resided a wave of people writing to Lightfoot about a shooting that took place on the evening of the parade. And one person, in particular, posted the video of said shooting, which inexplicably is still up on Twitter. But the shooting, which happened at Humboldt Park in Chicago, revealed an ambush by several men who yanked Gyovanny Arzuaga and his significant other, Yasmin Perez, out of a vehicle, violently shooting both of them before scattering away.

Arzuaga, 24, died. Perez, 25, at least made it to the hospital where she was originally in critical condition, but also passed away.

FOX 32 Chicago’s Nate Rodgers reported that Arzuaga and Perez only planned to spend a short amount of time at the parade before the shooting.

Isaly, a cousin and godsister of Perez, organized a GoFundMe for the funeral services of both families, as well as the education of their young children.

Outside of Chicago-based outlets and a growing collection of tweets, this murder has gone widely underreported. Unfortunately, what you’ll also see on Twitter are ultra right-wing conspiracy theorists wanting to call attention to the incident but are only doing so in a way that fuels their anti-Blackness because the assailant captured on video appeared to be Black. It’s a collection of people who are trying disingenuously to call attention to the murder but wouldn’t have if a cop struck down Arzuaga instead.

And herein lies the multidimensional difficulty when assessing this. Some of these people, while raising awareness of the deadly encounter, don’t care about Gyovanny and Yasmin. They care about their entrenching themselves on a provocative stance. In turn, they’re dangerously attempting to design a division that has nothing actually pertaining to the aftermath of this execution. They’re endeavoring to fuel a narrative built on Black vs. white because Arzuaga appeared to be lighter than his killer.

Throughout the country, people of color occupy close proximities to one another, growing up in the same cities, fighting for everything we could obtain, all in the name of survival. In places like Chicago, and in my native New York City, Black and Latino folks live in and around many of the same neighborhoods. And while people are using the killing as a springboard to launch their agendas, enough hasn’t been done of the act itself.

Arzuaga’s murder was aimless. Perez’s death was pointless. They were victims of stupid street counterproductive machismo pistol poppin’ that has hindered our hoods more than what the forever implemented American constructs already have.

Unfortunately, gun violence is so American that it’s tradition. But people on the far right side of the political compass don’t actually want America to solve gun violence because many of them and their relatives wish badly to protect their guns over anything else.

This Twitter profile worded a succinct analysis:

If LeBron James says virtually anything today, particularly anything regarding the advancement of his people, some will bring up his no comment on China as a mechanism of deflection to avoid uplifting all the good he’s done community-wide. Many of these same people generally don’t actually care about China; they’re just anti-LeBron, so they’ll pounce on any opportunity to publicly belittle him behind their keyboards. And, yes, he could’ve handled that with greater efficiency, but the reactions from certain groups are designed and constructed to divide and conquer.

And as for us, the people of color living in these cities where gun violence is increasing across the nation as the country rushes “back to normal,” it’s needless to say that we are long overdue to drop our weapons. We are long overdue to stop looking at each other as enemies despite emerging from interconnected and systemic challenges. And if the police are going to keep killing the Andrés Guardados and Adam Toledos and George Floyds and Breonna Taylors of the world, we need to take care of each other. We need to make sure the Gyovanny Arzuagas and Yasmin Perezes could still be here.

(No arrests have been made yet as of this writing.)


Bryan Fonseca is an award-winning sports journalist, with bylines for Deadspin. He is also founder, host and executive producer of the Ain’t Hard To Tell Podcast and Side Hustle. Twitter: @BryanFonsecaNY.