There has consistently been lifelong hatred towards the black community. Even though we may not experience it as often now, there is still hatred. There are Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests across the country. These peaceful protests were inspired by the murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin.
George Floyd was arrested and laid faced down on the ground. A white police officer had his knee placed on Floyd’s neck while he struggled to breathe. Floyd stated he couldn’t breathe, but the officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck refused to listen.
Officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and officer Tou Thao stood nearby but refused to do anything to prevent the situation.
Chauvin is now charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Lane, Kueng and Thao will be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Floyd’s death embarked on the recent protest for justice for black people.
Slavery in the US existed for almost 339 years and segregation lasted for 89 years. No matter how hard Black Americans fight for their rights, they have consistently been treated differently by American institutions and their policies, most notablely stop and frisk.
“They depict black people as animals that need to be caged,” said Wildine Lincifort, a black student at Edison.
Political leaders, such as President Trump, have been making racist and inaccurate comments towards many races. The black community absolutely had enough of these comments and are currently fighting back.
Another black student at Edison, Kilhah St. Fort said, “…The vocalization of racist ideology can definitely trace back to our political leaders. I mean, look at President Trump’s recent tweets in response to the two forms of protesting during COVID-19. In April, when many white Americans went out with guns to protest their ‘right’ to get a haircut, they were viewed as ‘good people, who just wanted their lives back.’ Now a month later, with the Americans that are protesting in the name of BLM and the many lives lost to police brutality, they are addressed as ‘thugs.’ Mind you, the word ‘thug’ has racist connotations around it and was used years prior by politicians to attack black/brown communities. It single handedly criminalized black youth. While people can argue President Trump only used that word due to the looting, I’d like to bring attention to the fact that the government has been sending undercover cops to some of the protests to start chaos. Not to mention, regardless of your opinion on looting and rioting, you cannot discredit the black community’s anger and frustration at being killed every single day for just breathing. You do not have to agree with the method, but you have no right to say we are overreacting.”
In addition, Wildine Lincifort said she believed that political leaders have influenced racial prejudice. “I do think racism is influenced by our political leaders aka Trump. Ever since Trump became president, the amount of racism towards the black community and other people of color has increased…His supporters decided to catch attention by excluding and racially profiling those people. Trump and other political leaders don’t care about if people are dying, they care about the money they will be making after everything is said and done.”
America’s justice system has always had police brutality as an issue, however, we see time and time again that black humanity is most affected, their lives, like Ahmed Aubrey and Breonna Taylor, often ended by the same hands people believe are there to protect American citizens.
Ahmed Arbery was a black man who was murdered while he was on a jog near Brunswick, Georgia. He was chased by a white man, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael. Arbery struggled to get away from Travis while Gregory McMichael shot Arbery multiple times. A video of the murder was posted on social media and the McMichaels as well as the bystander recording were charged.
Breonna Taylor, a 26 year old black EMT, was killed by an officer. The police had a search warrant to investigate men who were believed to be selling drugs, however they entered the wrong home and shots were fired.
Taylor was shot eight times.
Social media is documenting the protest and riots taking place all over the country and around the world. Many people have gathered together to fight for justice for Floyd and justice for black lives.
Multiple videos on social media show how cops who are surveillancing the protests are making it look as if the peaceful protesters are the ones causing the damage to police cars and small businesses.
St. Fort stated, “The racism towards the black community has always been the same, now it’s just being recorded. There are hundreds of cases of police brutality and so many lives lost that it’s impossible to remember them all. I think since it’s all being recorded and posted today, there are always so many people to have an opinion on it, whether it’s positive or negative. However, there’s a drawback of being desensitized to the violence. This is why there’s people out there claiming ‘there’s nothing we can do about it’ or ‘that’s just the way things are.’ This is a lie. There is always something we can do about injustice, we just have to acknowledge that the fight is long and difficult, but we have to stick to our beliefs.”
There have been incidents where people are practicing their right to free speech and the freedom to assemble and officers will attack these peaceful protesters. Police have maced children; they have thrown a woman down so hard it caused her to have a seizure and kick a pregnant woman, resulting in a miscarriage. The protests are to reduce police brutality, yet the law enforcement officers are more ruthless.
According to the 2020 census, about 13.4% of the United State’s population is black or African American, however according to an organization called Mapping Police Violence, a black person is three times more likely to be killed by the police force than a white person. Around 99% of killings by cops from 2013-2019 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime. Cops are being let off the hook and viewed as heroes.
As reported on The Patriot Act, a Netflix original series hosted by Hasan Minhaj, it is difficult to sue a police officer because they are protected by a legal concept called qualified immunity.
“Now, normally, when you sue a civilian, you have to prove that that person violated your rights, but when you sue a cop, you have to prove they violated a right that was clearly established. But a right isn’t considered clearly established until someone successfully sues a cop for violating it,” said Minhaj.
“The way that they depict black people in society is so disgusting because, as a black female, I’m not okay with people asking me if I have a dad just because they heard black people don’t have dads. Or when they say black people are hood and ghetto for certain things that they do, but once another race does it, it’s all of a sudden cool,” Lincifort said.
Racial injustice towards the black community seems to never end. However, ChiChi Akwuobi, a black student at Thomas Edison, stated, “Racial injustice will end when the government finally admits to its flawed system. We’ve been demanding change and it’s time that actions are made. The system needs to be fixed and people need to actually be held accountable for their racial injustices.”
“…There will always be that one person, who refuses to change their views for one reason or another. I don’t mind sitting down and having a conversation with someone about racial injustice, but I won’t talk to a brick wall. America was built on racism. It is prevalent in the education system, the legal system, the criminal justice system, the media. We can never escape racism, but we can confront it and make change. The best thing we can hope for is change, no matter how small or how big” said Kilhah St. Fort.
As former President Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
We are a generation with great power. We have grown up surrounded by great leaders and activists. We have read books that showed us the power we have as teens. We are the generation that will change everything. No one can stop us once we unite and fight for the issue at hand, BLACK LIVES MATTER. We will vote and we will speak, we will set our voices free.
[All photo credit to @shirien.creates on Instagram and @shirien___ on Twitter]
- Barajas, Angela, and Martin Savidge. “Ahmaud Arbery Killing Being Investigated as Federal Hate Crime, Family Attorney Says.” CNN, Cable News Network, 26 May 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/05/25/us/ahmaud-arbery-doj-hate-crime-investigation/index.html.
- “Mapping Police Violence.” Mapping Police Violence, mappingpoliceviolence.org/.
- Oppel, Richard A. “Here’s What You Need to Know About Breonna Taylor’s Death.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 May 2020, www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html.
- “U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: United States.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219.