When searching the internet about facts to back up my argument about the murders of black people, I couldn’t wrap my head around all of the contradicting numbers. Sadly, it turns out the Internet isn’t as reliable for statistics as I thought. One concept I could grasp, however, was the fact that too many black people live in fear, because they know that the next headline about the latest murder could be about them.
Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Reika Boyd, Tamir Rice, Tarika Wilson, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland are the names of just a few black people who are no longer alive. I could go on for what seems like forever listing names, because this is just the beginning. This list does not even begin to accurately describe the number of black people slain like their lives are dispensable. These cases are merely the ones that ended up getting media attention, while hundreds of others go unnoticed.
I am tired of using dead people’s names to try and get the point across that black lives matter. I am tired of trying to use statistics to try and persuade others to believe that people blessed with melanin deserve to live.
It is important for me to describe what the black lives matter movement is about. To start off, white people are born with a natural privilege over people of color because of the system set up in America that benefits them. Institutional and structural racism are issues black people face daily, along with microaggressions and having to deal with cultural appropriation.
Many rush to say not all cops are bad, but struggle to believe that not every young black boy in a hoodie is a thug. Claiming an unarmed black person needs to dress and speak differently in order not to be killed, is like blaming women and what they wear for being raped. A black person doesn’t have to be “a good kid who had a promising future,” for his life to matter.
I don’t want another black name to become a hashtag for the wrong reasons.”Black lives matter” was created with the hope that eventually “all lives matter” will be an accurate statement, because in today’s society, it doesn’t seem true. To me, it seems like in America, “black” and “guilty” are the only things that are actually equal. Gun control is a serious problem in America so, of course, white people are also killed. But the difference is that white people aren’t killed by the police because of their skin color. As one Outkast lyric says, “across cultures, darker people suffer more. Why?”
Some people don’t understand the need for a movement like this. To them black people seem to be doing fine, because there is a black president after all! But let me give you a few examples of why this movement says specifically “black lives matter.” People who say “save the polar bears,” are not saying “I don’t care about any other animals, they don’t matter.” They are focusing on the one group that is facing an issue. When it is someone’s birthday, you don’t go and smudge their name off the cake because you want it to be everyone’s birthday. Or when you’re at a 5k walk for breast cancer, you wouldn’t start yelling “cure all diseases,” because it just doesn’t make any sense.
Saying black lives matter, is in no way saying other lives don’t matter. It is actually a pretty simple concept when you think about it, but ignorance stops people from understanding it. All in all, the black lives matter movement was created to bring awareness to a pressing issue that wasn’t getting the recognition it deserved.
The enslavement of black people has ended, but are black people truly free? With white supremacist terrorist groups like the KKK still practicing in 2015, the answer to that question is no. This country was built on the genocide of one race and the enslavement of another, and it is going to take a long time to break down the oppressive system that is in place. Too often, minorities’s own personal are experiences are dismissed and discredited because people don’t want to believe that America, oh great America, land of the free, isn’t exactly that noble. Achieving equality and justice is a tedious walk up a mountain that is going to take a long time. We have most definitely made amazing progress, but there is still more work to do.
Langston Hughes once wrote, “Negroes – Sweet and docile, Meek, humble, and kind: Beware the day – They change their mind.” To me, it feels like a revolution is coming. If only bullets could kill racism, discrimination, and the traumas of slavery instead of innocent black people, America would be a different place.