Coming from a different background or race, one will always come into contact with being racially profiled or discriminated against. Many Americans today are dealing with being racially profiled because of one simple thing the color of their skin, especially African Americans. In fact, it has come to a point where many black people are being targeted and used deadly force by a police officer when they have nothing on them. The Black Lives Matter movement started when a young man Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman a neighborhood watch volunteer. “Martin had been unarmed, on his way back from a 7/11 convenience store where he had just bought himself an iced tea and a bag of Skittles” (The Guardian). This movement is an outcry to all of the injustice and wrongdoings of police officers against young black people. This movement was started by a woman activist Alicia Garza. She wrote an online Facebook post, right after the verdict of George Zimmerman, her post caught so much attention. Her post was a love letter towards the black community which read “…our lives matter. #blacklivesmatter”, this post started a whole movement that became a global phenomenon. “BLM activists have staged die-in protests, in which hundreds of people lie on the ground as if they have been shot, at shopping malls and on college campuses” (BLM movement, Hillstrom). By doing this person wants to make sure they are part of conversations and unfortunately, fatal shootings will be on the media for a couple of days and things will go back to normal as if nothing happened, but these types of protest force a conversation. A conversation that will continue as long as it takes for their voices to be heard.
The black lives matter movement has spread all around the world, with many supporters but also those who disagree. “many of us were tired and disturbed by the lack of recognition towards the killings of black people by vigilantes and law enforcement, we are tired of not being a part of the conversation around racial justice” (From a Moment to a Movement, Collier Hillstrom). This movement became so big that with all of the protests it hit headlines, social media, and even the mix of politics were involved. A majority of Democrats have supported this movement and have fought with the American people, but there have also been Republicans who want to work on the right side of the criminal justice reform. There have been many people that state “all lives matter” which yes they do, but in particular the movement was to let everyone know that African Americans are human beings and that their lives matter as well. This “all lives matter” phrase usually comes from a Caucasian person and unfortunately many do not see the different ways that African Americans are treated. “many of the people saying all lives matter also are fond of saying blue lives matter, but black lives matter bothers them” (HuffPost, Shaper). There seems to be a type of uncomforting feeling with the word “black”. Barak Obama, the first black president was supportive of the movement and responded to the people who believed that all lives matter with “I think everybody understands all lives matter, I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase black lives matter was not because they were suggesting nobody’s else’s lives matter rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that’s happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities” (MSNBC, Sakuma). Obama had an understanding of the situation and why people were so frustrated with the system.
Racial discrimination has been a touching topic for a very long time now. In the late 1800s, the fourteenth amendment was ratified after the civil war. The fourteenth amendment guarantees the protection and due process of the law to every single citizen. It states different privileges of citizenship and denies any person of life, liberty, or property. “The fourteenth amendment also includes the equal protection clause, which prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (American Government & California Politics, chapter 5). As African Americans fought for freedom and equality, in the end, the civil war amendments failed them from it. There were many activists, for example, Fredrick Douglass is a well-known black abolitionist writer who was born into slavery but taught himself and others about discrimination. “Douglass intensified the fight for equal citizenship. He argued that freedom would be empty if former slaves were not guaranteed the rights and protections of American citizens” (NPS.gov) During this time slavery was still a big back and forth topic, the north wanted to end slavery and give freedom while the south did not. Discrimination came in different ways, in jobs, segregation in schools, segregation in stores, etc. Even when the African American group earned some equality there were laws such as the Jim Crow laws that set them back and people continued to treat them like animals and not humans. Like the black lives matter movement there were different groups formed such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), where students of every race came together to form the freedom rides. They encountered angry protestors or people who did not believe in desegregation, the same with the black lives matter movement where many people believe that they are not including every other race. “The United States has been treating evidence of racism, and not the causes, since the Civil War.” (The Washington Post, King).
Martin Luther King Jr was a big influence in these times of protest for equality. “Martin Luther King Jr has become more symbol than man: pacifist, a beacon of nonviolent racial reform” (New York Times, Concepcion de Leon). King Jr gave the popular “I Have a Dream” speech that moved not only the entire country but the entire world. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 played a huge part in the political context, this “prohibited discrimination in employment on grounds of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, or sex” (American Government & California Politics, Chapter 5). It ended segregation in different places. “Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr said that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was nothing less than a second emancipation” (History News). The equality that is defined in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 continues today.
Unfortunately, until this day discrimination continues to occur. Even with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the fourteenth amendment, the way that people are still being treated today does not follow those two acts of law. Many people believed that during the time of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the ratification of the fourteenth amendment would change things drastically, many people like the southerners were keeping their way of thinking. The southerners still horribly treated people of color. “After the end of Reconstruction, white Southerners regained political power and set about reordering race relations.” (ThoughtCo. Vox). This meant that blacks had to separate from whites to survive and not get into any kind of trouble. “Northern blacks, too, were experiencing high unemployment, poverty, and discrimination, and had little political clout.” (American Government & California Politics, chapter 5). Blacks believed that their freedoms were given, but in reality, the fight was not over. With many efforts in dealing with race in the country, blacks still have to deal with discrimination every day. Political discrimination continues as Donald Trump the president of the United States at the moment has shown his racist side and calls upon people of color. He has negatively talked about blacks, “Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks” (NY Times, David). With these types of comments, he persuades his supporters that people of color are not as smart as they are (white people) and the spiral of racism continues. So with trump being the top figure in America, it shows that no matter what the fourteenth amendment or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explains, he believes that people of color will and “should” be treated differently. “The only way the Civil Rights have protected us today by the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, the right to governmental services, the right to public education, and the right to use public facilities.” (American Government & Politics, chapter 5). There have been massive rallies of the attendance was high by the White Nationalist that ended up in violence and death. When asked about the situation and how he felt about White Nationalists on tv Trump responded with “they are decent people”. “It is clear is that the Trump administration and its wing of the Republican Party are the chief launderers of white-supremacist and white-nationalist ideas in America today” (The Atlantic, Vann), and unfortunately his supporters follow his ideas and agree with his statements. For example, there is recurring racism at college campuses, different fraternities “members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma who participated in a racist chant, caught on video, about lynching African Americans” (The Washington Post, King). This comes to shows how discrimination against blacks continues, it has been treated like pain on a broken limb. Efforts to reduce it are the main focus instead of how to fix it.
Media plays a huge role in shaping many different major events. “What’s so interesting and so meaningful about social media and social movements is just how quickly people can mobilize through social media,' (USA today, Simon). Social media has revealed how much of an interest it has in people and influencers with putting their voice out there and trying to be heard. Black Lives Matter movement activists took onto social media the different findings of fatal shootings and the pattern of brutality and violence that has grown out of the systemic racism. “The new movement is powerful, yet diffuse, linked not by physical closeness or even necessarily by political consensus, but by the mobilizing force of social media” (Black Lives Matter book, Hillstrom). For example, a simple hashtag on Twitter can send you directly to videos, tweets, quotes, etc. from that word or event. If one clicks on the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, one will find many of these activists built a foundation that lays down civil rights and black power movements all over the world. There is a continued focus on diversity, inclusion, empowerment that every race has today and that includes black people as well. “we wanted to create a political space within and amongst our communities for activism that could stand firmly on the shoulders of movement that have come before us, such as the civil rights movement, while innovating on its strategies, practices, and approaches…” (Black Lives Matter book, Hillstrom). Activists today are continuing to look back at the civil rights movement and bringing it back to light, that is through peaceful protests and especially through social media.
I feel that racism will continue as long as we let it continue. At a point in where we are now as a country, I see pure division by a certain group but also union. It is hard to tell at this moment what would happen in the future, we have a president now that is a racist who brings his supporters with him in his ideas. On the other hand, we have a group of people, mostly minorities who continue to come together and unite. They unite for equality and a better life in the United States of America, to demolish racism. Black people need to be treated as human beings because that is what they are. We can solve this problem by throwing out facts and educating people. Educating people about its history, educating people on different races, by giving everyone the same equal opportunity in life. People need to be more loving to one another, more love needs to go around, and less hate. I hope to see racism vanish. Like my mother always told me, things might be worse right now but it is followed by the good. Racism is at its peak right now and I am hoping to see a united country in the future.
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