Black lives matter? What 10 years ago would have been a simple statement, today some say is a controversial topic or that it is too political - identity politics the left uses to divide us. Surely, it’s just about equality and anti-racism, how is politics involved in any perspective? If it was about equality it wouldn’t be called black lives matter, it would be all lives matter proving they are just a bunch of white haters. The riots and looting show they just want revenge and not equality, Martin Luther King never would have wanted this. Where are the riots and lootings for black on black crime? I found myself getting extremely frustrated at the myriad of comments, soon realising that many simply don’t understand what this movement is or are ignorant about it intentionally or unintentionally. Misunderstanding why so many of us can’t support all lives matter or blue lives matter.
The reason it’s called Black lives matter and not All lives matter is because you have to name your movement in a way that pinpoints what the problem is. The same way it’s called feminism, even though it’s about equality of the sexes, sexism historically and typically affects females. Feminism still addresses the injustices of family law, men receiving longer sentences and 60% of homeless people being men, even though it is called feminism.
Black lives matter is about challenging and fighting police brutality which historically and still is affecting primarily black people. It is not about white people killing black people. This is not a race war and especially is not white against black. Now more than ever it is everyone against racism. The police officer could have been any race, the problem wasn’t that he was Caucasian, the problem was that it was a police officer using excessive force and murdering yet another black life unnecessarily. A common argument is “well black people commit more crime”. The punishment for any crime has now become death? If so, we can then get rid of the court system, the justice system and prisons. Enlighten me, was that nurse sleeping in her home committing a crime: BREONNA TAYLOR 2020, the retired veteran whose LifeAid medical alert necklace was triggered; KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN SR, 2011 selling cigarettes: ERIC GARNER 2016, falling asleep in your car and being shot 55 times: WILLIE McCOY 2019, for babysitting your nephew in your own home: ATATIANA JEFFERSON 2019, having a non-functioning brake light: WALTER SCOTT 2015, for having a broken tail light to then be murdered in front of your 6-year-old daughter: PHILANDO CASTILE 2016 , that 12-year-old boy who was playing with a toy gun TAMIR RICE 2014, going to the store: MICHAEL BROWN 2014, shopping; JOHN CRAWFORD 2014, traffic ticket; SANDRA BLAND 2015, driving: TERENCE CRUTCHER 2016, going to his bachelor party; SEAN BELL 2006. These are just a handful of names from the black community who lost their lives to the people who are supposed to be protecting them.
I saw a statistic being shared online that in the United States 370 white people were killed by police during 2019 and 235 black people were killed hence white people are more likely to be killed by police. Well luckily after my two years of GCSE maths I can tell you that statement happens to be incorrect. Assuming there is truth in that statistic, 76.5% of American citizens are white, 13.4% are black. As America has a population of 328.2 million the ratios then stand at 1:678,576 for white people and 1:187,144 for black people. It doesn’t deny the fact that white people are unjustly killed by police, let’s not forget the tragedies of; Justine Damond, Kelly Thomas and Daniel Leetin Shaver. Therefore, the next time you find yourself saying “well white people are killed too”, ask yourself why you aren’t joining the movement in order to do something about it.
The biggest issue with “all lives matter” is not only was it non-existent until after black lives matter but that you don’t have the mindset of caring equally about everything always, for everyday circumstances. If your friend cuts their finger do you ensure to get a bandage for everyone else in the room because all fingers matter? When someone spreads awareness for breast cancer do you criticise them and tell them that all cancer’s matter? If someone gives a eulogy about how kind and special that person was you don’t take the microphone and say that everyone is kind and special. When Notre Dame burnt down, we donated money to Notre Dame and not other buildings. Why? Notre Dame was the one that needed our attention at that moment in time.By focusing on the one that is clearly in trouble and in need that does not imply nor indicate that the others are in any way inferior or lesser, it simply shows we care about it just as much as the others. That is why we don’t say all lives matter.
When the riots first started taking place, I found myself getting frustrated that violence was now being used, possessing the mindset of “violence doesn’t fix anything” and that any respect for the movement will soon be lost. Then I started to analyse and reflect as to why people felt the need to use violence. BLM has been an organisation since 2013, having multiple peaceful protests to try and fix injustice but nothing was being done. The riots seem to be sporadic if anything and not consistent, they were fuelled by years of anger and frustration. When quarterback Colin Kaepernick peacefully protested (his first amendment right as per the constitution) by kneeling during the national anthem, an idea from a veteran, he received so much hate and backlash. Both peaceful and violent protests seem to create an issue.
We cannot pretend that historically violence has not fixed a substantial amount of problems; the slaves did not sit around singing kumbaya or wade in the water to the point where plantation owners felt guilty enough to let them go. Churchill most certainly did not politely ask and protest for Hitler and the Nazis to leave them alone during the blitz. The suffragettes caused damages to property estimated to be worth between 1 and 2 billion pounds for them to be taken seriously and achieve their goal.If a couple of riots make all BLM supporters ‘Thugs and radicals' the suffragettes must have been terrorists. To quote Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s famous words “A riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?”
Even though this revolution may have proved that there is more ignorance in this world than perceived, it also brought a multitude of different people together; countless celebrities, over 20 countries, the Amish, the LGBTQ+ community, kpop fans, witches, feminists, monks, many distinguished brands the list really does go on. One of the biggest gains to the movement was the Korean pop band BTS who donated 1 million dollars to the cause which in turn led to their fans donating another 1 million dollars. Not only that but kpop fans have been flooding the white lives matter and white out Wednesday hashtags with fan edits to drown out any racist tweets.
My personal favourite part of this revolution is that generation z is leading it, teenagers are at the fore-front of this. The ones who were told they were too tech-dependent, lazy and unable to focus are now at the front lines of protest, picking up tear gas cans with their bare hands, hijacking tanks from the national guard , toppling statues of slave owners and tackling police officers in full riot gear. They used their ‘tech-dependent’ ways to make #allbirthdaysmatter and the first-ever #obamaappreciationday trending on twitter on Donald Trump's birthday. Dallas police introduced an app for anyone to send videos of protesters in hope of making arrests. This resulted in kpop fans flooding the app with fan edits to such an extent that the app crashed and was unable to function. Kpop fans and gen z managed to fool POTUS by reserving all the free seats at his Tulsa rally with no intention of attending. 5 days before the rally Trump tweets “Almost One Million people request tickets for the Saturday Night Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma!”. In the end it’s reported that 6,200 people (0.62% of the requested tickets) were at the arena that can hold up to 19,000. We can’t be surprised at some of the madness taking place; we were the generation that ate laundry detergent pods for fun, flooded a serial killer's Instagram with fairy comments, randomly decided to storm Area 51 out of pure curiosity whilst justifying this madness with statements such as “we can all run faster than their bullets, they can’t kill us all”. As crazy as this generation may seem, I do wholeheartedly believe we will bring about the change needed in this world.
The main message this revolution has brought to everyone is that we’ve gone past the stage of it being adequate to claim, “I don’t see race” or “I’m not a racist my neighbour is black”. It is 2020 and we now need to be anti-racists and educate ourselves on race rather than simply being too uncomfortable to discuss it. The reason for it being an uncomfortable subject is because throughout our school lives we are told that ‘racism is bad’ and ‘you shouldn’t see race’ but that is about it. We are never really taught about what racism is or how it works. The history curriculum of British schools doesn’t teach about the colonial and segregated past of the country because we want to believe ‘the UK isn’t racist’ even though I’m still having to tell 16 year old boys not to use the n-word. The school curriculum in Britain is currently: 1066, some kings and queens, ensure to skip over all the racist bad parts and two big bad wars that we won. Not discussing race is installed in us which is why some of us may be racists without realising or even intending to be whilst still having the ‘I don’t see colour’ mentality. We simply need to start teaching these things from a young age. It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men, therefore it needs to be taught: Black lives matter.
Author: Lakisha K. Charema
This blog was submitted to us via VolkersWesselsUK