A Message For the Movement

To say that May 25, 2020, is a date that has astronomically shaken the world would be understating the intensity of what we are experiencing in our communities. At this very moment, protests are happening across the country and for good reason. George Floyd was murdered in cold blood, in broad daylight by Minnesota policeman, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin held his knee to the left side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. In a video that has been widely circulated on social media, you can hear him repeating “Please”, “I can’t breathe”, and “Don’t kill me”. It’s a scene that I can barely watch without my heart sinking.

The four officers involved in the murder of George Floyd have all been terminated. One of them has been charged with murder in the third degree. With the evidence being crystal clear, why is it taking so long to get justice? The number of Black men and women that have lost their lives due to police brutality continues to climb at an alarming rate. People of all colors are taking to the streets to declare, once again, that BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Tony L. Clark holds a photo of George Floyd outside the Cup Food convenience store on May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis.Jerry Holt / Star Tribune via AP

Since the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, we have been demanding justice. I still feel angry when I think about George Zimmerman still walking freely as if he didn’t senselessly murder an innocent teenager. The movement continues to live on despite other murders of Black men and women. Momentum has been building and tensions have been rising over the last eight years. Protesting and rioting is a result of decades-long abuse, violence, and inequality.

We are an uprooted race that this country had to be “creative” with eradicating. How do you dispose of people who have no home to return to? Think systemic racism affecting employment, mass incarceration, Black women being 2 to 6 times more likely to die in childbirth, gentrification, the list goes on. The dehumanization of Black people has reached its apex and WE. ARE. TIRED.

Speaking of tired, the “All Lives Matter” rebuttal is WRONG and also very annoying. All lives matter, but the lives we are focusing on at the moment are BLACK. If you or someone you know is saying this or putting it on a sign, t-shirt, button, etc. please stop them immediately. It’s possible to stand up for a specific cause/race of people without harming or not caring for another. Because we declare “Black lives matter”, it doesn’t imply that other lives don’t.

Police officers walk enveloped by tear gas in Portland, Ore., on Friday. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian/AP)

We are aware that white lives matter. It’s been obvious for decades. Blue lives matter because they can kill you with impunity. If you’re arguing against the Black Lives Matter movement, you are ignorant to these obvious facts or intentionally arguing in bad faith. People are angry because their voices are not being heard. Some of the stories of these victims have been shrouded in silence. The system being protested has yet to deliver justice.

If you are not Black and have Black friends, check on them. Listen to them and be present. Arm yourselves with the knowledge of our issues to fight against your peers and their ignorance. We need it right now more than you know.

Everyone, PLEASE be safe. We are still going through a pandemic. I don’t want to see more of us die for the cause. Mask up, make sure you practice social distancing, and wash/sanitize your hands regularly. I hope we can all find some peace in these times. 2020 has been exhausting and draining on so many levels so let’s look out for each other as best as we can!

Cultural Appropriation Crash Course

I’m not someone who takes offense easily, but when I do, I get pretty pissed off about it. I watched a video posted by sixteen-year old Amandla Stenberg about culture appropriation. “Culture Approriation” is defined as the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture. Basically, it’s when White people put dreads in their hair without understanding the cultural representation of them.

Watch this video that Amandla posted. She can explain it better than I can:

The question at the end of this video has haunted me since I first heard it.

“What would America be like, if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

Amandla has faced some backlash. (Mostly from people missing the point altogether.) This girl is not stirring up the pot, but rather pointing out black culture. I am also thrown off when I see people who aren’t Black exhibiting Black culture as a fashion statement, but dismiss the social ills coming from that culture. Don’t get me wrong: I love LEARNING from other cultures. But you won’t catch me wearing a bindi, commercial use of Kente cloth or using Chinese characters without respecting the history behind it. It’s cultural appropriation when the culture is watered down, commercialized, and used in a comical manner. Period.

Now before you all start flooding my comments, let me make this clear; This cultural appropriation is not just about Black hair, style, music, etc. It’s about understanding and respecting the culture behind it. I have seen so many people miss the point entirely because their ignorance won’t allow them to see the bigger picture.  It’s not simply about culture, it’s also about the race of the people behind the culture. We’re not just talking about Black people, but people of all races.

Respect the culture, respect the race of people it comes from and treat them like human beings. We have much to learn from each other if we could stop the hate and ignorance we constantly display against on another.