A while ago I had posted a poem to explain a little bit about the Black Lives Matter movement but I feel like I need to explain more. The poem had detailed how just because we say our lives matter doesn’t mean that all the other lives in the world don’t. I talked about how if I say that I am beautiful, it doesn’t mean that I am calling you ugly and that it’s unfair to me for someone to assume that. However now I want to talk about why there is such a movement.
When I took criminal justice classes I learned about the Innocence Project and the innocence project is a team of people who are helping others who are in jail and have been falsely convicted, be released. These could be people who were placed there years ago and new evidence has come out, or people who when their cases were looked over again the truth came out that there was never any true evidence to support their incarceration. Among the statistics the Innocence Project released, black men were more likely to be wrongly incarcerated.
Then later on in a project on human rights I stumbled upon the history of black people in America over the years. I learned about the Civil Rights movement in more detail than ever before, the movement that we all praise now however back then it was strongly fought against for stirring up aggression when it was just a plea for freedom. I read about the unity of black people from all communities and all states, normal people, pastors, teachers, or celebrities all uniting to say that they didn’t want to die anymore.
Then I took another class- always stumbling on the ugly truth- where I learned about post civil rights movement where black women were sterilized without their knowledge, where a thriving neighborhood of black people was mobbed by the neighboring white people and aerial bombed- yes in the U.S., and where black men were tortured into admitting crimes they didn’t commit. During my time in college I uncovered a whole world of abuses against people who look like me.
So many people would like to tell the black community to stop talking about the past and to focus on the present and the future. They like to remind them they are no longer slaves and that they themselves never were. I used to agree and think that some people just held on a little too tight to the past. However my eyes have been opened now. The truth is slavery did end but all black people are wearing the scars of a past that still haunts them even to this day. It is the weight of racism, prejudice, stereotypes, discrimination, profiling, and the lack of security that holds its roots in slavery. Black people are not holding onto slavery as a crutch, there are just some white people who still try to wield whips. The truth is the past has not past yet. If it weren’t for the last two years of constant killings of black men, women, children, parents, and grandparents we would be fooled into thinking that racism has vanished or is close to dying out. However when the faces of these victims come back to back to back on t.v. and social media one cannot escape it. It travels through the grapevine even when we try to turn off our devices and to be honest we are forced to watch because we never know when one day it will be someone we know. So all the generations of black people living, young and old, watch and what they see is that it doesn’t matter how old they are, they are all unsafe.
Although the white community can turn off their television and stop caring or perhaps they do care and then they continue with their day, we cannot. With each person that dies, with each officer or citizen that walks away, with each hashtag a new generation is being taught that their lives mean nothing. They are being taught that the color of their skin allows and even warrants death. That no one beyond the bounds of their color will care. That is what every new shooting teaches us. So when we say Black Lives Matter we are saying what history has been denying for years. We are saying that our blood cannot be spilled carelessly like ink anymore, our lives cannot be considered worthless anymore, and our bodies will not be used as prey anymore. When we say black lives matter we are saying what no one else is saying, that we matter.