Black Lives Matter
By: David Moreno
Rodney King (Los Angeles, 1991), Sean Bell (New York City, 2006), Freddie Grey (Baltimore, 2015), Philando Castile (Minnesota, 2016), Breonna Taylor (Kentucky, 2020) and now George Floyd (Minneapolis, 2020). Over the course of the past month and a half, the world has been devastated and hurt by the brutal death of George Floyd. Floyd was forty-six years old, and he was murdered by a police officer by the name Derek Chauvin. Chauvin suffocated Floyd to death by pressing his knee on Floyds neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. This murder has ignited the world with anger and frustration due to racial injustice the black community faces. Many people have shown their frustration in the protests going across the United States; however, it is not just the people of the United States who are protesting. The entire world is hurting for the injustice the black community has been facing for centuries. Countries in Europe such as England, Spain, and Italy have decided to join the Black Lives Matter movement, and each of these countries have protested in their own unique way. England for example, is very well known for their football (soccer) league, the English Premier League. At the start of every single game, players from both teams take a knee for a minute, demanding justice for the black community across the globe. All fifty states have demonstrated their anger towards Floyd’s death and many students have shown their concerns with what is going on in the United States. A graduate student from Marymount University, Naiya Dalce has taken some steps to support the Black Lives Matter movement and upcoming senior Minasse Nerayo has strong views about the injustice that many people from the African American community are currently facing.
When asked about George Floyd’s video Dalce and Nerayo’s answers were different but they both expressed the same feelings of heartbreak. Dalce stated that she could not fully watch it, she was tired of seeing black men being killed on camera. Many people find it hard to watch those kinds of graphic videos and Nerayo had lots of thoughts to share when he saw George Floyd’s video. “I felt like my heart literally just dropped to my stomach after watching what happened to George Floyd. I’m still traumatized by it to this day. From the Trayvon Martin incident to Michael Brown to Eric Garner, this is at a whole other level that I just cannot bear,” Nerayo stated. There is no doubt that the Black community is exhausted from watching these kinds of videos, and they know for a fact it also happens off camera. That is why many people have decided to protest in their own unique way, virtually or going out and protesting with the rest of the country.
The Black Lives Matter movement has increased throughout many years, it has gained an incredible number of supporters. Supporters from all different backgrounds, whether it is Latinx, Asian, Arab, or Caucasian; they have stood with the Black Lives Matter movement. Dalce stated, “I support it one hundred percent, but I’ve never been to any protests. I sign petitions and spread the word. Everyone I’m friends with supports the movement.” Dalce also clarified things for those people who do not support this movement when she stated, “If you don’t support it, then you won’t be around me.” Now, Nerayo has had a different way of supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, he said that he has joined the Black Alliance club at Marymount University, but he has not done anything prior to that since he is originally from Ethiopia. Having to see people take action against all the injustice that this country is going through has touched the hearts of many people, regardless that the world is in the middle of a global pandemic the world has united even more against two viruses that are killing many people. But it also starts with the recognition that a group of people are more privileged than others and in addition to recognizing privilege, education plays an important factor for the world.
Educating oneself is considered one of the most effective ways to fight racism, Nerayo explained how educating people can have a huge impact on their understanding a specific culture. Nerayo said, “I think it’s just a matter of education. The issue is people are educating the next generation to do or act in certain ways that discriminate and treat other races differently.” He also mentioned that there has been a great first step since they have started to defund the police. A variety of people have stated that defunding the police is a great way to make justice for those people who have been victims of police brutality. By recognizing that a group of people are more privileged than others allows one to understand and observe how minority groups face injustice. Dalce said, “White people need to acknowledge their privilege. They have to be reliable allies, because once white people start fighting with us, then people will listen.” She also mentioned the history of racism in the United States and specified about certain people in the workforce that could potentially discriminate against other minority groups, “Honestly, it’s years of racism. It goes way back to before I was even born. Slave owner’s children are still alive and are still racist. They then pass their views onto their kids. So on and so forth. There are racist doctors, teachers, police officers, etc. So, it’ll take a long time for any change to happen.” It all starts with educating people and making them realize the horrible situations the black community has gone through their entire lives. Both Dalce and Nerayo believed that there is injustice within the criminal justice system. Nerayo went on to say how some of the problems within the criminal justice system and he mentioned the bailing systems contributions to this conflict. “America jails African Americans and Hispanics at rates far exceeding than whites. It’s a biased and unfair system of mass incarceration and social control. Consider ‘driving while poor’, how fees and fines wind up essentially criminalizing poverty. Or how the bail system keeps people in jail not because they are guilty, but because they can’t afford to pay bail. Or how the absurdly high cost of calling inmates has forced some families to choose between paying rent or buying groceries and keeping in touch with loved ones in prison.” This system has led many people to fight racism and all sorts of discrimination against minority groups, Dalce stated once again that educating each other is the best way to combat racism, Dalce added some of her plans for the future which could potentially help combat racism in the United States. “I am going to law school to become a black attorney. The system needs it,” Dalce said. Nerayo also addressed the way he is combating racism which is through protesting virtually and going out and protesting with his fellow friends. He stated that he has been donating to different fundraisers and signing numerous petitions to fight racism. As mentioned before, Nerayo has gone to some protests down in Washington D.C, and he gave advice on how to combat racism. “Whenever you overhear someone tell a racist joke, speak up and let them know stereotyping isn’t harmless. Let your children know they should feel free to do the same. There’s nothing funny about using ‘humor’ to normalize dangerous ideas and perpetuate ugly stereotypes,” Nerayo stated. It is all about education and realizing that learning a country’s history is essential to prevent further racial discriminations against a group of people and not give up until there is something done about this social issue the United States is facing.
The entire world is joining the movement, which is something that inspires Nerayo, he said that the spread has brought a smile to his face. He also added that many voices are being heard, many names and faces are being known all at the same time, which are important factors to recognize within the Black Lives Matter movement. Athletes and celebrities have made an impact to inspire people to join this movement, such as rapper Snoop Dogg, Killer Mike, and Jadon Sancho, a right-wing striker for the German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. Now according to Dalce, celebrities have let her down, however the only celebrity that has surprised is rapper J-Cole who was spotted protesting in his town Fayetteville, North Carolina. Protesting is a fundamental right for every person who lives in the United States, however there are two sides of the coin when it comes to protesting. There is the good side where people are protesting peacefully, and there is the bad side, where people have taken a violent nature due to police brutality. Dalce gave advice for everyone who is currently out protesting, “Police officers can kill you or really injure you,” Dalce said. Taking caution when protesting is perhaps one of the most important things people must be aware of. Nerayo wanted to let people know two important things before going out and protesting, “Firstly, I would want them to know to be careful because the coronavirus is still out there, so people still need to wear their masks. Secondly, you are making a change when you are out there protesting. You are showing how much you care about this racial injustice that America has suffered from for centuries and that is heavily admired,” Nerayo said. It is important to take these extreme measures when it comes to protesting, Coronavirus is not over yet, people must wear their masks to protect themselves and others.
The future is uncertain and sometimes it can be frightening, but Nerayo believes the United States is heading in the right direction, “I don’t know what the future holds for America. But as of right now with what’s going on with the police department being defunded, we are off to a good start. But this is just the beginning. This issue is not going to fade away like that. We have to keep fighting and make sure our voices have been heard loud and clear,” Nerayo said. The fight is far from over and the people will not give up until justice has been served and the fight needs to be taken to the center where all problems begin, the criminal justice system. Dalce said that the system needs more black people and if they keep pushing harder, they might just take over it. Dalce said, “They hate to see us succeed. Police officers are already getting defunded so I think things will slowly change within the system.” Defunding the police is the first step being taken, which a lot of people believe is the right thing to do at moments like these where a community is suffering due injustice. Everyone must be educated, Nerayo and Dalce had similar thoughts when asked about educating people on racial injustice the country is facing on a daily basis. Dalce stated that people need to start educating their children at birth and that all races must be educated. Dalce added an important statement when it came to educating kids, “They need to start talking about racism in kid shows,” Dalce stated. She also recommended podcasts, YouTube videos, and reading more books. Educating the younger generation to be kind and demonstrating that there is no room for racism in the world must be a goal the world must strive to achieve. Nerayo mentioned that differences must be taught to children when talking about racial injustice, “Prejudice and hate are not innate. They are learned behaviors, and they can be unlearned. Children absorb biases from the adults around them, and from the media, books, and their peers. So set a good example. Talking about differences does not increase prejudice in children. Make sure that children understand we are all human and we all have a right to feel safe and valued,” Nerayo said. Educating kids at very young age about history and teaching them to be compassionate about other people’s perspective is a fundamental factor to prevent discrimination against others. Nerayo also recommended watching the 13 Amendment Documentary on Netflix, which focuses on all discrimination that has happened for the past four hundred years and the inequality that is happening in the United States.
There is no doubt that there is fundamental injustice within the United States criminal justice system. Many people are angry, and they are tired of seeing people die like George Floyd did. However, the fight is far from over, more people are going out protesting, signing petitions and donating money to different organizations. Demanding justice for all of those who have died at the hands of police brutality is essential to end every sort of discrimination in the United States. People from all sorts of different backgrounds are choosing to change, which means that the people of the United States are realizing that there are people suffering due to the inequality. There are a variety of people and companies using their platforms to raise awareness about this problem. Call Of Duty War Zone, Modern Warfare has taken part in the Black Lives Matter movement, as they would send a message before starting a match online. It is all about recognizing the injustice that minority groups face and having people join the movement and use their privilege as an ally to give a voice to the voiceless. The people of the United States are choosing to change their way of life in order to change other people’s lives. Hope and perseverance are required in order to win a fight against a deadly virus like racism and in the end this virus will die but only if the people decide to educate and change themselves.