Through the hashtag, #blacklivesmatter, we are able to externalize memory, educate, and tell the stories of injustice. The death of Trayvon Martin sparked this international movement. It memorializes the lives lost due to police brutality and tells the public that not all lives are equal. This movement was made to tell the stories of the African Americans who died of injustice. Racism is still a very relevant issue today. With this movement it’s become routine to constantly remind citizens of all nations, that the minorities do matter, even if history has told them that they don’t. In this blog I use history and memory interchangeably because the history we remember is memory.
When ignorant people rant and say #alllivesmatter, that hashtag is very disrespectful, because yes, all lives do matter, but you have to remember that all lives, specifically black lives are not and have not been equal. That hashtag does not remember all the black lives that were lost due to that reality, that hashtag puts all the lives that were lost back in the shadows of history we choose to not acknowledge. It almost makes it seem that the people who support this counter movement want to be seen more important than black lives. Which is ironic because slavery was a vast majority of White Americans seeing themselves as more important than black people, and treating them less than human. The hashtag #alllivesmatter disregards the fact that black women, children, and men are being murdered by the State. Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, Tony Robinson, Mike Brown and Eric Garner were all murdered by the state. The policemen that murdered them faced no legal repercussions. That disproves the claim that “all lives matter and are equal” because the court didn’t see their lives important enough to give the policemen consequences or even jail time for their actions. That hashtag erases that fact and instead tries to shift the focus so they don’t have to be burdened with the knowledge this reality of injustice. Citizens that believe #blacklivesmatter is an inclusive movement are wrong. Just because this movement is saying black lives matter, doesn’t automatically mean that that other lives don’t matter; it’s not to have a contest to see who’s more oppressed, or to make black lives seem more important than others.
We see the history of this country through the memory of white privilege, because they deemed that was the only side of history that mattered. There are school districts in Texas censoring the terminology they use in history textbooks about slavery. We’re spouting lies saying that this is America, the land of equal rights, and where all men are equal, when it’s clearly shown all throughout our history that and even in currents events that those are lies. We have 25 governors that aren’t allowing Syrian refugees settle into their states due to extremist fears that they could be terrorists. Where are the #alllivesmatter groups now, when there are people in need of refuge and half of our country denies that to them? When America was first founded we were refugees from England, and Native Americans who took us in ended up being slaughtered and went through genocide because of us. The only terrorism I see in this country is the KKK (which should definitely be considered a terrorist organization) and all the“mentally ill, out casted” white people who decide, and have the resources to, shoot up movie theatres and schools. The U.S. doesn’t even acknowledge that as terrorism though, which is ironic because Nazis in Germany after the Second World War were considered to be terrorists and were trialed for their actions but I digress again. Another example of terrorism in this country would be what happened at the University of Missouri. There were white students rallying in groups chanting white power, and trapping students of color into parking lots terrorizing and harassing them. There was a yikyak post (a form of social media) saying that the students of color weren’t safe because they were going to shoot them on campus the next day. It was insane, and students of color were emailing their professors telling them they felt unsafe due to this even and the professors were insensitive to that and didn’t care. Again, I can provide countless examples proving that all lives are not/haven’t been equal and that white supremacy is still very alive and evident in this country unfortunately.
This movement has resources to shine light on the injustices of police system and their brutality. Yes, there are good cops and bad cops, and people want to remember the cops back when they were present to help the people of their city, but we’ve grown to a point where we need a serious police reform, because we can’t even trust our cops anymore and they don’t trust the public. They treat the majority of people of color like they have no feelings and people of color are more likely to become incarcerated than white people. People of color have been, and more so now (with good reason), scared of the police because of how many unjust murders there have been with police and people of color, remember Rumain Bribson, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, and so many others. You can’t run from cops either, or else they’ll shoot you and plead the “I felt threatened for my life” card (like Mike Brown’s case) and will walk with no jail time, and continue the cycle. If you don’t comply with their demands whether they’re obeying the laws or not, you have increased your chance of being arrested or murdered. This movement wants to shed this light on this issue so it will hopefully stop and can go back to trusting our police force. But how can we trust police after all of these murders and instances of police brutality? Some police violate our rights, do illegal searches and seizures with out warrants, and if you aren’t aware of your rights you’ll be taken advantage of. Even if you know your rights, as seen with Sandra Bland, and tell the police officer that they’re violating your rights you have a chance of being murdered or taken to jail because of their incompetence. If a black man killed a cop justice would happen swiftly, as it should, because murder is murder and is illegal in every state. But when a cop kills a civilian, more often than not, they face no penalty, no jail time, and probably paid time off. This movement wants and has the ability to shine light on this important issue within the police and the court system. This movement knows through memory that this has happened time and time again without fail and without conviction to these cops. That’s why the people that make up this movement in protests repetitively chant the names of the black lives lost.
When riots erupt over a murder of a African American man, or a child, or due to a poorly made court decision the media is so quick to label the rioters thugs and animals but when violent and destructive riots of white people erupt over sports teams losing and a pumpkin festival, the media labels them as rowdy. We surely did not label the rioters over the sports team thugs, criminals, or animals. The difference between the two riots was, that one was over the injustice of a people of color, and the other because of pumpkins and sports. The double standard is real, and those riots over sports teams and pumpkins did not get as much attention as the ones over injustice got. The #blacklivesmatter movement have peaceful protests that have never once turned into a riot. When the people respond with violence and rage over the acquittal of police who have murdered an African American life, it’s because they have no more hope that things will change, they’ve been proven over, and over again that history is doomed to repeat itself. When people are hopeless they’ll do whatever they can to get the attention they need and that typically erupts as mobs and riots.
We’re being asked by this movement to use the power of memory not only to remember these names, and to remember that these lives matter, but also to remember that history is doomed to repeat itself if change doesn’t happen. These events that fuel this movement matter because this hashtag is able to document, and track the progression of memory/history. Anyone is able to look up this hashtag and become aware of the injustices that have been happening for a very long time. This hashtag would virtually connect everyone to see everything that is related to this movement, and would help store and immediately recall any information at someone’s fingertips. If this movement is successful we won’t be seeing history through the eyes of white privilege anymore, we’ll start seeing it in a less biased/eurocentric way. We’re going to have to rewrite our history to be correct, not hiding the genocides, not hiding what the government has done and what Americans don’t want to talk about. It will rewrite the way we view our presidents with the policies they’ve agreed to whether it was a good policy or a policy that had us fund money and train soldiers to take over another countries. White privilege is having history taught to us in a Eurocentric view, and having that history mandatory in the curriculum, while Black Studies and Chicano Studies is taught as an elective. This movement, #blacklivesmatter, has the power to externalize memories onto the internet for everyone who decides to look up this hashtag to see. It also has the power to rewrite history and make the oppression, genocide, racism, and discrimination they still face be known to everyone internationally, in hopes that there will be a day history won’t repeat itself.