It’s a bittersweet moment to be so involved with the Black Lives Matter movement encouraged by the recent murder of George Floyd by the hands of a police officer. While I am happy to be part of the ongoing protests and feel optimistic towards change, where black people can live in a world where their lives are treated as valuable and as important as the lives of white people, it is still devastatingly heartbreaking to know about the extremely high levels of violence and racial abuse/discrimination black people and their ancestors have suffered.
As a white, and thus privileged person, I understand that I will never understand how it feels to be on the receiving end of racial hate and discrimination but as an empath, I can empathise and ensure I use my privilege, voice and platform as a means to help advocate and protest for changes. It is disheartening and saddening to see so many white people ignore what is going on and choose to remain oblivious to the struggles black people face in every aspect of their lives; while white people can ignore (as racism is not something they can ever experience) black people can’t, as there is no escape from what is very much their reality. There is nowhere for them to hide as their skin colour is what makes them a walking target, even in their own homes where they are shot and murdered by police. Breonna Taylor has been a high profile case who was shot dead while she slept, in her bed, in her own home after the police mistakenly broke into the wrong house during a drug raid. It’s angering to see the comments from the mouths of ignorant white people who comment, ‘all lives matter’ and how ‘enough is enough’ after having seen a horse injured during the protests. Nobody disputes that all lives matter; the oppressed are certainly not trying to reverse the oppression, they just simply want to be heard and given the basic human rights that they deserve. At the moment, black lives are the ones hurting, in danger and in need; they are the ones who have always been, are still are being, treated unfairly in society by civilians such as teachers, employers, colleagues, shop owners and random people in the street, as well as those in authority such as police, judges and juries. To state: ‘All lives matter’ in response to their cries for help and statement that their lives DO matter, is to belittle the struggles and in the results of the inferiority they have been labeled with is immediately negating the initial ignorant comment within itself.
All lives cannot matter until Black lives matter
White privilege is very much alive whereby if I, a white woman, was to be stopped by police for running a stop sign, I would be let off without punishment; the very worst being a fine. A black person, would be shot or arrested without consequence. The police brutality in America towards black people is relentlessly out of control; black people have had to watch their husbands, brothers, fathers, sisters, children, shot and murdered at the hands of police. They have to train their children on how to stay beneath the radar of police whilst having their skin colour as a target for discrimination; teaching them how to stop themselves from getting killed. They have to live in a constant state of worry that their children aren’t going to return home, that someone is going to label their father as a threat due to the colour of his skin and shoot. All things that a white person has never had to contemplate.
Historically, protesting and rioting, from years of abuse, discrimination and oppression, seems to be the only way in which voices are heard and changes are made. For example, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, gay Americans faced an anti-gay legal system and sought to assimilate homosexualism into society through non-confrontational education to no avail. Stonewall Inn, a bar popular amongst the most marginalised groups such as, ‘butch lesbians’, effeminate gay men, transgenders, drag queens, and male prostitutes, was raided by police as was common during the 1960’s. The next evening, and several days later, rioting and protests broke out for the rights of LGBT+ and within weeks, the village residents quickly organised into activist groups to concentrate their efforts on establishments where gay men and women could be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest. Within 6 months, two gay activist organisations had been formed and three newspapers advocating for and promoting gay men and women’s rights and one year after the protesting was the first Gay Pride March, the anniversary of which is celebrated every year. Within a few years, Gay Rights organisations were founded in the USA and all across the world. A second example would of course be the Suffragettes and the winning of women’s right to vote. The success of protesting and rioting is proven through two of major rights movements.
Things that we cannot, and should not have to change, such as race, gender and sexual orientation should not be an invitation to be murdered, arrested, abused or discriminated against and to stand up and promote, protest and advocate for change is the least we can do with the privilege we have done nothing to be rewarded with. I hope and pray that we can live in a society where nobody is treated differently because of the colour of their skin and that we can love each other as we love ourselves and use our voices and privilege to help the ones in need. Animal rights, gay rights, women rights, are all something we unite on and so Black Rights should be no different.
Please, sign the petitions and be the change you wish to see in the world.
Love, Olivia x