We Are The Difference
By: Sophia Yevchak
“Racial equality is defined as when all races are given equal opportunities, rights, and treatment without hesitation.”
Racial equality is defined as when all races are given equal opportunities, rights, and treatment without hesitation. In a perfect utopia, racial equality would be automatic along with many other social equalities. Sadly, our nation, along with many others, discriminates against specific races while favoring others. For most of United States history and in modern day, people of color have been and are systematically discriminated against, especially by the police. To ignite change and bring awareness to the issue, the Black Lives Matter movement erupted in early 2020 and has caused a huge conversation throughout political leaders such as our recent presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, as the election approached.
I strongly believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has caused more citizens, specifically the young, to vote. Young voters have been engaged in protests and social media, which has caused them to become more aware and educated. In an informal survey of ten Marymount students, nine out of ten of them felt the Black Lives Matter movement influenced or inspired them to vote. The Marymount staff has also been active during this semester promoting the importance of Black Lives Matter by holding gatherings titled “We Won’t Be Silenced” and an online session, “LISTEN. LEARN. ACT TO END RACISM”. Black Lives Matter stands for advocating non-violent protests against police brutality and all racial discrimination against the black community. The values of the movement have caused many young people to join in and led them to vote democratically in the 2020 election. Though, the democratic candidate, Joe Biden, has actually never endorsed the movement or defunding of the police. If in fact that current President Donald Trump wins, he also has shown no support for the movement and has shown support in continuing police funding. While it is so amazing and important that there has been support for the movement, if the candidate selected does not help the issues at hand, there won’t be any change.
It is well known that the younger generation bases their lives around social media and influence of modern trends. On June 2, 2020, the “Black Out Tuesday” virtual Instagram protest occurred in which most of its participants were young people and celebrities. This virtual protest caused many to easily obtain education and information, which mostly was the young generation who then continued to spread the message. In my personal experience, it was an intimately empowering moment for myself and a lot of others my age. It was at that moment that the movement felt so alive, everyone felt so connected, and the need for change was most evident. In “Tiktok And Instagram Uses Find Their Political Voice” by Anthony Svirskis, he says, “The power of social media in galvanizing the masses to a single relevant topic of conversation is impossible to ignore” (Svirskis 1). I believe that the power of social media caused more young people to feel empowered and involved. This year was insanely different from most, which caused this year’s election to be extremely different as well and how people became politically active, “younger users of these platforms have far less health risks attached to the virus so naturally content was playful, and in most parts helpful to stay-at-home messaging” (Svirskis 1). Since the movement was powerfully trending on social media, those who were not comfortable with going into crowds due to COVID-19 were still able to be active through the internet. I believe the influence of social media and politics combined inspired more young individuals to become politically engaged.
After the saddening death of George Floyd on March 25th, the youth united as one to protest and stand against racial injustice in the police system and across the nation. The abundance of protests that the youth took part in influenced them to use this newly found power to vote. Sara Burnett, a writer for the Associated Press stated, “There are signs young people are getting more politically engaged” and “It will just be incredibly important to us to make sure we’re protesting now and voting later” (Burnett 1), in the article “Young People Turned Out to Protest. Now, Will They Vote?”. We can observe from this evidence that protests are causing more of the young citizens to become active, which has led them to voting. In many years and elections previously, the young voter turnout was significantly lower than anyone else’s.
However, in the 2020 election, the young generation of voters escalated by 8 percent compared to the 2016 election according to the Vox article “Why so many young people showed up on Election Day” by Lili Pike, this helped previous Vice President, Joe Biden, win the popular vote.
While most young voters supported Biden in the 2020 election, I can easily argue that he has not fully endorsed or supported the Black Lives Matter movement or defunding the police. While Biden has shown more support to minorities than Trump, it does not necessarily mean that he is planning to provide all of the change that we have been protesting for. In an article posted to Fox News titled, “BLM co-founder sends message to Biden: ‘We want something for our vote’” by Vandana Rambaran, they explain how “some activists [are] calling to ‘defund the police,’ a notion that Biden has not thrown his weight behind completely, to the dismay of his more progressive supporters” (Rambaran 1). From this information, we can conclude that Biden has not made a clear campaign as to whether or not he will use his votes to support all the change that is needed. On the other side, President Trump has also been known to not show obvious care for the movement and encourages helping the police which would therefore not propel the change wanted. Vox makes it clear through the article “There are proven ways to keep protests peaceful. Trump is doing the opposite.” by German Lopez, that “Trump has characterized the protests as violent, even though more than 90 percent of thousands of protests nationwide have been peaceful” (Lopez 1). In this situation, both candidates have not fully endorsed the movement or defunding the police, which is the act of relocating funds from public police departments to non-policing safety groups. Therefore, while more young individuals are voting, the people they are voting for have not directly communicated that they support what the majority wants to change.
To further investigate my theory, I asked ten random Marymount students “Did the Black Lives Matter Movement influence or inspire you to vote?”. As I expected, 9 out of 10 of the participants answered yes while only one answered no. I believe that this shows how much the movement affected college students, specifically, Marymount students. Our college community is very diverse and welcoming from my experience which I believe allows the promotion of such political movements to occur on campus. These are only ten students out of many, but I strongly believe that they represent a much larger group of students in their mindset of voting.
I argue that social media, protests, and the entire Black Lives Matter movement has single handedly empowered the youth to vote because it has been statistically proven correct. In an article by Hannah Miao, “Young voters helped propel Biden to victory. Now they’re pushing for a more progressive Democratic Party” published by CNBC, she provides accurate data showing how much the youth voter turnout impacted the election. Miao states, “in key swing states such as Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania…preliminary data shows young people’s support helped push Biden over the margin of victory” and “between 73% and 87% of Latino, Asian and Black youth supported Biden, compared with 51% of White youth” (Miao 1). This evidence vividly concludes that the support from the youth helped Biden to win the 2020 election. Without the new surge of youth voters, Biden and the Black Lives Matter movement may not be where they are today. With the collective energy from social media, protests, rallies, and the need for change, it has been shown that this election was run by the young generation and has most likely inspired even more to vote in future elections.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been truly inspiring and still going strong today. While we are still in the unknown of what our future country will look like, it is promising that the movement and the young generation will continue to fight for change. There is no simple solution to this large problem, but continuing to educate and inspire others is the first step and it has already shown so much promise for positive change. The movement caused so many more young citizens to vote which could lead to a brighter and more equal future for us all. Without certain actions and continued persistency, our goals will not be reached. No one can be silent in a time like this, and we know that the young generation will certainly not be.