Black Lives Matter
The Injustice in Our Criminal Justice System
- 1 ABSTRACT
- 2 ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
- 2.1 [Sources on the Problem with Our Criminal Justice System]
- 2.2 [Sources on Current Efforts and Alternatives]
In this paper I will present research on the overt racism in our criminal justice system today and the current mass incarceration crisis. The US is home to five percent of the world’s population and a quarter of its prisoners. Americans have been conditioned to associate a Black face with a criminal one, dehumanizing an entire race in the process.
I will also present research on existing nonviolent efforts to combat systemic racism and reform the broken model of our criminal justice system. It is important to look at birth of the Black Lives Matter movement after the Zimmerman trial and how this movement has brought a new way of organizing activists. I will discuss efforts that push for rehabilitation and restorative justice as alternatives to imprisonment as a default punitive method. Lastly, I will reflect on the problem, the current efforts to find and present my own ideas for further activism. When it comes to ending modern-day slavery, we need people of every color to feel the burden and pain that has been inflicted on African Americans. This cannot be a fight that we cheer on from the sides; it is every American’s fight. We’ve become aware of the white man’s privilege. It’s time to start using it, not by presenting quick fixes and short-term support, but by examining what it means to be human and the facing head-on the injustice in our criminal justice system.
[Sources on the Problem with Our Criminal Justice System]
Kilgore, James William. Understanding Mass Incarceration?: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time. New York?: The New Press, , 2015. EBSCOhost,.libproxy.txstate.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00022a&AN=txi.b4220685&site=eds-live&scope=site.
James William Kilgore’s book gives a comprehensive overview of the incarceration strategy of the United States, the World’s largest jailor. He discusses many theories and policies in criminal justice from rehabilitation and restorative justice to the War on Drugs and broken windows policing. He also dives into the truth race and gender when it comes to mass incarceration and it’s devastating effects on the communities it impacts the most.
This source is a great way for me to present some key facts and concepts when beginning to understand the way race effects our criminal justice system. It breaks down the root of the problem and the many ways it manifests itself and could help provide some information on possible alternatives and theories for how our criminal justice could be reformed and improved.
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow?: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York?: New Press, 2012., 2012. EBSCOhost, libproxy.txstate.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00022a&AN=txi.b3156513&site=eds-live&scope=site.
This book by Michelle Alexander takes a close look at the current subordinate status that the African. She argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal rights to employment, education, housing, and other public benefits are the way we have redesigned the racial caste system in America and that the way the criminal justice system targets black men is a form of racial control.
This book is the reason for so much debate and is referenced in the majority of my other sources. It sheds light on the heart of the issue and is really the taking-off point for my research. I want to use it to help present America’s current racial climate and the ways the racial cast system still exists. I will use it as a launching point when discussing mass incarceration’s pivotal role in the civil rights movement.
Teasley, M.L., et al. “Trayvon Martin: Racial Profiling, Black Male Stigma, and Social Work Practice.” Social Work, vol. 63, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 37-45
This article examines racial profiling specifically through the lens of the 2012 shooting of Taryvon Martin and George Zimmerman’s subsequent acquittal. The authors use this court case as an example of the effects of racial profiling and the black male stigma. They call for major social work organizations to bring attention to and advocate against this stigma and racial profiling.
It’s important to talk about the events that really gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and brought attention to racial profiling in the first place. I want to use this source to talk about deep-rooted stigma’s and how they played a role in this historical case specifically. It’s an important beginning to the nonviolence efforts that took off with BLM.
Pfaff, John F. Locked in?: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration–and How to Achieve Real Reform. New York?: Basic Books, , 2017. EBSCOhost, libproxy.txstate.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00022a&AN=txi.b3842924&site=eds-live&scope=site.
This book, recently published in 2017, presents his findings from 15 years of research on the roots causes of mass incarceration and our broken system. He urges us to look past factors like the war on drugs and private prisons, and instead look deeper at other factors such as a shift in prosecutors bringing in twice as many felony charges than normal in the 1990’s and law and order agendas in minority-heavy cities. This source is everything I could hope for in looking at the root causes of mass incarceration. It also has great data in the beginning about incarceration rates compared to other countries and times in America, starting with the 1970’s. It has true stories, and examines aspects of this crisis I have not read in any other sources so far. I plan to use examples to identify and proved possible solutions to the mass incarceration crisis.
Western, Bruce, and Christopher Wideman. “The Black Family and Mass Incarceration.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 621, no. 1, Jan. 2009, pp.221-242
The article begins by talking about the Moynihan Report of 1965, which linked social and economic struggles in poor urban African American communities to high rates of single parents. Moynihan called for investment in these inner city communities, but politics instead moved in a punitive direction sparking the emergence of mass incarceration. The authors document this growth of the prison population and pose several questions that shed light on the effects and social impact of mass incarceration, one of the newest stages in the history of American racial inequality.
This article is key for the research that I will present on the emergence of mass incarceration and specifically its effects on the Black community. By tying in the Moynihan Report, I can cover both old and new suggestions for alternatives to imprisonment as the go-to punishment for crime. This is not just about a race of people, it’s about communities and the families and individuals in them.
Arnett, Chaz. “Virtual Shackles: Electronic Surveillance and the Adultification of Juvenile Courts.” JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW AND CRIMINALOGY, vol. 108, no. 3, pp. 399-454. EBSCOhost
This paper by Chaz Arnett presents a detailed history of the way youth have been treated in juvenile courts and detention facilities and the road to using the types of surveillance technology we have today. It examines situations and patterns of youth being treated and tried as adult and juvenile detention facilities treating the youth there more and more like adult prisoners. Lastly, it takes a hard look at the dehumanization ankle monitoring has caused.
I want to use several specifics elements from this source in my paper. Arnett brings up statistics starting in the early 1900’s of black youth being more likely to be held in detention centers longer, tried as adults, and detained pending trial. I want to talk about the “Child Savers” and early rehabilitation efforts, and how we have lost our way when it comes to rehabilitation especially with youth. Another interesting fact I may discuss is that Black inmates have significantly lower odds of preferring electronic monitoring to jail time than White inmates. Maybe it’s about a stigma; maybe it’s about being stripped of rights in the world. I am curious.
Kleck, Gary. “Racial Discrimination in Criminal Sentencing: A Critical Evaluation of the Evidence with Additional Evidence on the Death Penalty.” American Sociological Review, vol. 46, no 6, 1981, pp. 783-805. JSTOR
This research article presents an evaluation of research that was published on death sentencing rates from 1967 to 1978 which concluded that black homicide offenders (except in the south) were less likely then whites to receive a death sentence. This reevaluation argues that the devalued status of black crime victims is an reason for this lenient sentencing of black defendants. Crimes with black victims are less likely than those with white victims to result in the imposition of the death penalty, suggesting that black victims are seen as less human than their white counterparts.
A good argument always looks at counterarguments, and I’m really interested in the way this one refutes interesting statistic. It may be slightly dated, but I think it’s important to see how long this problem has not only been around but been researched. I will use the research and statistics to show how racism permeates our justice system from defendants to victims. It is not exclusive, and part of the bigger problem is the dehumanization of black victims.
Eberhardt, J.L., Davies, P.G., Purdic-Vaughns, V.J., and Johnson, S.L. “Looking Deathworthy: Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes.” Psychological Science, vol. 17, no. 5, May 2006, pp. 383-386.
In Cornell Law School’s Legal Studies Research Paper Series, this research report presents the results of a study investigating the role of race in capital sentencing. After looking at 600 death-eligible case in Philadelphia, forty-four of which involved Black male defendants murdering white victims, the study concluded that in cases involving a White victim, the more stereotypically Black a defendant is perceived to be (e.g., broad nose, thick lips, dark skin), the more likely that person is to be sentenced to death. The study did not find this same tendency in cases involving both a Black defendant and a Black victim.
I can use the hard data collected and conclusions drawn from this study to present evidence on the overt racism in criminal sentencing. Whether jurors know it or not, they are influenced by how “Black” a person looks, suggesting that the more stereotypically Black someone is perceived to be, the more criminal they look. This is plain and simple racism. I can use this before or after discussing how we’ve been conditioned to associate African Americans with criminal behavior.
[Sources on Current Efforts and Alternatives]
Agozino, Biko. “Black Lives Matter Otherwise All Lives Do Not Matter.” African Journal of Criminology & Justice Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, Apr. 2018, pp. I–XI. EBSCOhost, libproxy.txstate.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=i3h&AN=129880295&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Agonzino’s article breaks down the logistics of “Black Lives Matter.” He begins by describing the rich history of resistance against criminal justice oppression that existed long before the BLM movement. He then explains how the countering with “All Lives Matter” cannot hold because it rejects the former, ‘Black Lives Matter.” The obvious is stated for the purpose of pointing out that some people still do not believe that black lives matter.There lays the problem- believing that a life is less than or disposable because of a skin tone.
I want to cite this article to introduce the BLM movement and the importance of rallying behind this cause. It is not an act of charity to support this movement; humanity depends on it. I will use these simple yet effective arguments to support talking about how the nonviolence that can be applied in changing people’s perspectives.
Furio, Jennifer. Restorative Justice?: Prison as Hell or a Chance for Redemption. New York?: Algora Pub., 2007., 2007. EBSCOhost, libproxy.txstate.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00022a&AN=txi.b4109852&site=eds-live&scope=site.
In this book, Furio asks how our current justice system is serving us and presents restorative justice solution. America keeps expanding prisons despite the lack of credible evidence to show that punitive justice actually makes our communities safer. She explores the benefits and the possible downfalls of restorative justice from forgiveness and victim relationship to the effects on family and children.
I plan to use this source to dive into restorative justice as a method of nonviolence. This is one of the only proactive methods currently being used to change our criminal justice system. We are bringing awareness and shedding light on the current inequality and injustice, but a lot of the current nonviolent methods are simply resistance based. Restorative Justice offers a tangible solution.
Bagaric, Mirko, Mitgating America’s Mass Incarceration Crisis Without Compromising Community Protection: Expanding the Role of Rehabilitation in Sentencing. Lewis & Clark Review., 2018. Vol. 22. Issue 1. Pp. 60-60p. et al. EBSCOhost, libproxy.txstate.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lgs&AN=130844126&site=eds-live&scope=site. Accessed 14 Nov. 2018.
This article by Mirko Bagaric explains the need to expand rehabilitation when it comes to sentencing and how we can work towards positive change and community safety without always making incarceration the default punishment. We have made community protection our priority when sentencing and have made our way of achieving that incapacitation in the form of imprisonment. Bagaric argues that courts should place more weight on rehabilitation when sentencing even when it comes to serious offences. Courts could adjust penalties in light of assessment of rehabilitation, but to do this we must first find rigorous, reliable criteria to make this assessment.
I believe rehabilitation and restorative justice can work hand in hand. It is a positive way to find solutions instead of a punitive one. This article could be of service in exploring nonviolent approaches to solve mass incarceration specifically and start working towards real safety, real change, and less people behind bars.
Edwards, Elise M. “‘Let’s Imagine Something Different’: Spiritual Principles in Contemporary African American Justice Movements and Their Implications for the Built Environment.” Religions, vol. 8, no. 12, Dec. 2017, pp. 1–22. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3390/rel8120256.
This essay deals with spirituality and its ties to the Black Lives Matter Movement and other African American justice movements. It goes on to talk about how spirituality influences architecture and the environment African Americans create for themselves, but the root of the text focuses on how some of the most visible, impactful campaigns have drawn upon spiritual resources as a source of empowerment.
This essay takes a different angle than I have explored so far in my research, but I think it is important to look at religion and spirituality’s impact on many African American social movements. Nonviolence has drawn on the power of believing in something bigger than ourselves, and that is not something the Africans American community has abandoned. I want to make sure to include this important source of strategy and power in the fight against injustice.
Martin-Breteau, N. “From pass:[#]BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation: Racism and Civil Rights.” Critique Internationale, vol. 75, no. 2, pp. 175–178. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3917/crii.075.0175. Accessed 20 Nov. 2018.
This book outlines the struggles the Black Lives Matter movement has faced since its conception. From Obama, the first black presidents scolding black activists, the rise of police murders, Ferguson, and so on, this book gives the details of the nonviolent ad sometimes violent ways this struggle for freedom has fought its way through history. Taylor argues that real liberation will come when a movement is built that can collaborate on a large scale and force America to face its flaws. The Black Lives Matter movement is well on its way to achieving that.
I needed a source that was able to articulate the long hard road the Black Lives Matter movement has fought to get to where it is today. Movements that demand this much change cannot just be passive. They require passionate people willing to fight, but we can still choose the tools we use to fight these battles. I will use this source to demonstrate the organization that is essential in tackling injustice and how the BLM movement has been able to mobilize people in way we never expected and may not have even supported in the beginning.
Cases Of Police Brutality
What is police brutality? According to the World Health Organization, police brutality is considered an act of violence. Police brutality is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either result in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation (Cooper, 2015).
Police brutality is the use of excessive force against an individual usually resulting in injury or death. Police brutality is an ongoing issue not only occurring in the United States, but also around the world, and it needs to be stopped. Due to police brutality, civilians are becoming more and more fearful and losing the trust of the police. Citizens should be able to go to the police for help and safety, rather than fearing for their lives every time they encounter an officer. Part of this fear stems from the media. The media is a good place to get your daily news, weather, and opinions, but they can be rather liberal and opinionated over certain views. Every time a negative incident occurs with the police, it gets national attention with the media. The media tends to focus more on the negative aspects of the officers compared to the positive aspects. Due to this people are only seeing or hearing negative stories of police officers. This is causing more and more fear for people in the United States. If the media were to focus more on the positive aspects of policing, then people would start to gain the trust and respect back for police officers.
While it’s true that most police officers are good and are here to protect and serve, there are certainly many officers that are bad and use their place and power toward illegal reasons. These officers, unfortunately, give the rest of the police a bad image due to the abuse of their power. These officers tend to use excessive force on individuals due to racial or personal reasons. There have been many cases of police brutality like the Eric Garner case which occurred in New York. There have been many other cases of police brutality that have occurred throughout the United States. Unfortunately, it seems like these issues are only getting worse over time, and it is time to finally do something about it. Police need to be better trained and receive adequate training. Police departments also need to start forming a better strategy for recruiting officers to get people who will protect and serve the citizens of the United States rather than abuse their power as an officer. If departments were to start providing a more adequate training for their officers, then there would be less police brutality cases and more trust towards the police over time.
The media plays a key role in the public’s perspective on police around the United States. Typically, the media is first to pick up stories about police brutality and expose it to the public. The media plays a key role in the public’s perception of the police. Historically, the media has been viewed as a reliable source of information where one can get local and international news, weather, and sports updates. With the availability of social media and the growth and spread of the world wide web, stories can now be delivered to the audience almost as quickly as the news is occurring. Unfortunately, in the race to be the first news source to deliver the information, the media may not be providing all the due diligence or objective research of details that a solid story requires with the result being the delivery of potentially rushed and/or incorrect/fake news. In addition, individual newscasters may often insert their own opinions, ending up providing biased information. This biased information can unintentionally instill fear or a general mistrust in the public.
Recently in the last few years, the media has shown more and more stories of police brutality. Most of these stories end up being videos or stories of police brutality incidents occurring throughout the United States. These videos can include police officers choking someone, beating them up, tasing them, or shooting someone who is unarmed. These stories and videos can end up angering many people. The media tends to only show one side of the story rather than showing the footage of what happened from the officer’s point of view. The media tends to show more of the negative aspects of policing compared to the positive aspects of policing. By only showing the negative aspects of policing like cases of police brutality, the media is fueling an already angry public which is causing even more mistrust of the police.
Due to the previous incidents of police brutality, there is already a general mistrust of the police in the community. Each time there is another story of police brutality in the news, the situation only gets worse. Citizens used to respect and trust the police, but now a part of the population does not trust them and now even fears them. Police are here to protect and serve us by keeping the criminals off the streets, but how can they protect us from criminals if some of them are the real criminals? Most police officers are good at their job and protect and serve their community, but the small number of officers that don’t are giving the rest of the police a bad image. Rather than only showing negative stories of police officers, the media should also include positive stories like stories of police officers taking criminals off the streets or officers rescuing a kidnap victim. These stories need to be shown more to help bring back a better image of the police. According to a study done by Justin Nix and Scott Wolfe, police officers are becoming less and less willing to engage in community partnership due to the constant negative coverage of the police (Campbell, Nix, & Wolfe, 2017).
There have been many cases of police brutality occurring around the United States. Some of the most notable cases of police brutality involve Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Philando Castile. All three of these individuals were African Americans who were killed by a police officer due to police brutality. Eric Garner was an African American who was killed by the NYPD on July 17, 2014. During that day Garner was stopped by two officers named Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo, for selling individual cigarettes on the streets (Jackson, 2016). Garner was expressing frustration the entire time due to constantly being harassed by police. Afterward, the officer started choking him to get him to the ground. The officer used a chokehold that is currently illegal and banned by the NYPD. Garner screamed 11 times that he was unable to breathe, but the officers did not let go. Eric Garner ended up dying. Even though this chokehold that was used by the officer was banned by the NYPD, the officer ended up not being indicted for the murder of Eric Garner (Jackson, 2016). This caused many reports of rioting and protests by members of Black Lives Matter around the United States.
About a month after the murder of Eric Garner, Michael Brown became another victim of police brutality. At the time of his death, Michael Brown was unarmed and only 18 years old (Diversi, 2016). The officer stated he stopped two African Americans for walking down the middle of the road. According to the officer, the two men became aggravated and assaulted the officer. Brown then tried reaching for Officer Darren Wilson’s gun. Due to this the officer reportedly fired off a shot. The two men ran away from the officer, but the officer pursued the suspects. After the pursuit, Brown began walking toward the officer aggressively. After many warnings, the officer fired off many bullets killing Michael Brown. There was another side to this story that stated something else completely different happened. Instead of Michael Brown walking aggressively towards the officer, it was the officer that was walking aggressively towards Brown. Either way, Michael Brown was unarmed and was unfortunately killed by Officer Darren Wilson (Pohl & Potterf, 2018). In the end, Officer Darren Wilson wasn’t charged, but more riots took place again just like the ones that occurred because of the death of Eric Garner. These riots were known as the Ferguson Riots.
Another police brutality case took place recently in Minnesota in 2016. On July 7, 2016, Philando Castile was killed by police in front of his girlfriend and four-year-old daughter (Hardeman, Kozhimannil, & Medina, 2016). The officers responsible for the death of Philando Castile were put on administrative leave rather than getting charged with murder. The death of Philando Castile sparked riots around the United States like previous police brutality incidents. All three of these people might not have been entirely innocent, but they still didn’t deserve having their life taken away from them, especially in front of their family. Due to the negative stories from the media and the constant cases of police brutality, a group of African Americans started a group known as Black Lives Matter.
The main case that started Black Lives Matter was the killing of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin was unarmed and was fatally shot and killed by a Hispanic neighborhood watch person named George Zimmerman in February 2012 (Kurtz, 2013). At the time of Trayvon Martin’s death, he was only 17 years old. After the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter became a popular phrase (Aird, Grills, Rowe, 2016). Shortly after, the group Black Lives Matter was created. Black lives matter started off as a good group that would bring together the community to protest police brutality and racism. Over time the group started to grow larger and began to protest more. The group transitioned into starting mass riots and started blocking highways for their protests. Our system is screwed up and, it needs to be fixed. There have been too many killings by police, which has caused groups to start rebelling against authority in the form of a riot. Riots can be dangerous, and it is time to make a change before anyone else loses their life. Officers need to be better trained by their departments to stop the police brutality and corruption.
Corruption within law enforcement agencies has been and continues to be a major problem occurring within departments throughout the country. It has produced distrust between the police and the community and often between the police and their own management within a department. Attempts have been made to combat corruption in the police force, but success has been limited overall. For a civilized society to work best, the police and the community need to work together and be able to trust one another. Corruption occurs when a police officer abuses their authority or power to gain an advantage over another with less authority. Cases of corruption have ranged from a single officer being involved to multiple officers within an entire department. It’s unfortunate and dangerous when corruption occurs because as stated earlier, it erodes the public’s trust that they have in the police. The police are supposed to protect and serve, but due to the mistrust, the public is hesitating to report crimes or come forward with clues to solving them. Besides corruption having a negative effect on the citizens, it also impacts the media, government, and the rest of the police force. It can be hard to tell the difference between a good cop and a bad cop, or a corrupt officer or corrupt department. A single corrupt officer or corrupt department can spread distrust and fear of all the police officers around the United States.
Many people have lost faith and trust in our police force due to the number of corrupt officers, and many are now even afraid of the police. This needs to change. Police officers are supposed to protect the public from criminals instead of being the criminals. The public should feel safe and shouldn’t have to worry about protecting themselves against corrupt officers. More work needs to be done to prevent and halt corruption and to do that, the causes of corruption need to be better understood. Corrupt officers tend to use excessive force and commit acts of police brutality. Corrupt officers/departments are also more likely to racially profile. Racial profiling is when race is used as the sole (or primary) factor influencing officers’ discretionary activities (Novak, 2004). Racial profiling is a very controversial issue currently occurring in the United States (Legewie, 2016).
Police brutality is an ongoing issue that needs to be dealt with before anyone else loses their life by the hands of the police. Officers need better training, so they can better decide what they need to do during any situation they are dealing with. By doing so, there would be fewer accidents by the police due to a better training. A better training would lead to fewer deaths and injuries towards civilians and would also lead to more peaceful protests by the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the Black Lives Matter movement would no longer have any reason to riot due to a better police force. The trust has been broken for so long, but it is not entirely impossible to fix. There is still time to regain the public’s trust and respect in our police force. More trust would lead to less crime and a safer country to live in.
Police Brutality In Modern America
A hoodie, Arizona ice tea and skittles. That was the spark that spawn into a flustering fire. On February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.
The murderer, George Zimmerman. The verdict, not guilty. As the story got out and emotions ran high, people all around the country took to social media in opinions and views. Sympathy goes out to the family of victim, questions to the judicial system and history’s dark past seeming to reoccur. Black Lives Matter. As time carries on the shooting of unarmed African Americans become more frequent and not from people on the street, but from our protection system. Police brutality and corruption exposure has flared all over the United States. As more unarmed shootings occur, Black Lives Matters began to turn into more than just a hashtag. Police brutality has influenced the Black Lives Matter movement in results of protest, injustice and psychological trauma.
As Black Lives Matters grows as a movement, so does the mortality rate of unarmed African Americans being shot. According to the article This is How Many People Police Have Killed So Far in 2016, by Celisa Calacal published on July 5, 2016. 194 Black Americans have been killed by police so far this year, at a rate of 4.86 deaths per million. (Calacal). Two years later according to the Washington Post fatal force database, there have been 857 people shot and killed by the police as of October 1st at 5:21pm. Out of those 857 killings, 289 of them were unarmed African Americans. Police brutality is a rising problem in the Black Lives Matter movement, and though there other many factors, this has become a key subject in change. With the fatal shootings, a lot of people apart of the movement have taken this problems to the street.
Protest happening nationwide in reverence of the fallen and hunger for change. As stated in the Free Speech and Protest article by Liberty-Human- Rights.org. The right to free speech and protest along with the right to form and join association or groups, are found in Articles 10 and 11 of the Humans Rights Act. But many protest have been shut down or turned violent, as tension runs high and rights are violated. A bond that has become broken between the people and the police. As A Solution to this problem protesters must stay calm and become less violent. Though adrenaline is running and anger is high, protesters must stay calm and not let these factors over take them. Freedom of speech is protected, but with exceptions. Make a difference with protest, not make situations worse. Following the shooting and riots of police officers in Dallas, Texas. Police chief David Brown states in his press conference Become part of the solution, we’re hiring. States the article Dallas Police Chief to Protests by Keri Blankinger (Blankinger). Also coming to the police chiefs and having a formal agreement for the protest.
Racial Injustice also plays a big role in the Black Lives Matter Movement. With a history of the justice system corrupted in cases affecting the African American American community in fairness and justice. An example is the University of Missouri Hunger Strike. African Americans teens were being threatened and harassed, as they informed the university president and nothing was done. The University’s football team and others then began to do a hunger strike for change as two days after the strike the university President Tim Wolfe resigned. According to the news media outlets, police brutality looks the same today as it did in the 1960’s. The harsh treatment towards African Americans from government officials was not uncommon then and it is not unheard of now. Today, many cases of gross murders and vicious brutality are taking place on camera. Even with solid evidence, the cry for justice by all American citizens is still not loud enough ( Blake). Huffington Post’s Sharon Blake stated in her article Racial Injustice; Is America Ignoring the Truth.
Other injustices include long run things such as housing. Alex Midrigal uncovers acts in his article article that made housing more complicated for African Americans. He states One of the most heinous of these policies was introduced by the creation of the Federal Housing Administration in 1934, and lasted until 1968. Otherwise celebrated for making homeownership accessible to white people by guaranteeing their loans, the FHA explicitly refused to back loans to black people or even other people who lived near black people. As TNC puts it, “Redlining destroyed the possibility of investment wherever black people lived” ( Midrigal). Injustices that must be addressed and changed. A solution to these injustices are petitions and laws. Things as taking solution to our judicial courts for these acts to be overturned and revised. These injustices are intolerable and unacceptable, rather it is social or any other category. By having these laws overturned, a difference can be made. And re-evaluating who is also in power, and getting people in power that are in favor of change.
Trauma is inevitable. With access to modern day technology such as social media, things such as police brutality are now exposed. Social Media is a big part of the Black Lives Matters movement, as that is how it started. There are many pro’s to this but also con’s. Since social media is open to everyone around the world, all can see. That ranges from a child browsing on their mother’s phone to a grandfather trying to keep up with what is trending. Post Traumatic stress disorder can stem from many things, and is not always visible. In these past years with all the shootings, racial profiling and harassment of African American many have come across this problem. Dr. Robert T. Carter states in his article of research that In 2001, the US Surgeon General issued a report about the status of mental health with respect to racial and ethnic minority groups, which stated that ethnic and racial disparities were likely due to racism and discrimination.1 Empiric investigations have linked racism to poor mental health and have shown that racism is stressful and compromises the mental health of persons of color ( Carter). Racial based traumatic stress is a problem that is just now getting recognized, and research is now happening. That in itself is one step forward to creating a solid solution.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a movement that has literally came to life. From a hashtag to having stations international in the fight for equality and justice. Police brutality has influenced the Black Lives Matter movement in results of protest, injustice and psychological trauma. Moving forward with solutions to these problems such as making agreement with the police before peaceful protest, getting laws removed that are biased and prejudiced and continuing to research are all steps that can be made for change and hopefully solving these dilemmas completely. If these problems are not resolved there is a fear of violence and racial tension. With the history of African -Americans in America and all the factors of the past from slavery to Jim Crow laws what lies ahead is unpredictable. As a nation these problems must be executed as time starts to dwindle and patience runs this. But one must recognize they are in darkness to reach the light. The past can not be altered and this nation can not take back time and all that has happened, but change can be made and wrongs can be made right. You can not control the wind, but you can control the sail.
Black Lives Matter Movement
- 1 Introduction
- 2 History of the movement
- 3 Progress Made by the Movement
- 4 Work to Be Done
- 5 Conclusion
In America, the issue of race has always been of actuality. The country itself was built on the belittlement and inconsideration of black people’s lives. The abolition of slavery should have been the end of all of the injustices.
However, they only continued under different forms, one being police brutality against black individuals. Black Lives Matter was born to help fight those injustices. Nevertheless, it is not the first movement to fight for the for social justice for the Black community. It is, on the other hand, the first movement to fight police cruelty toward Black people head first. A long line of heinous acts has led to the creation of a movement that now, not only fights against police brutality, but also is inspiring minority groups to take a stand and fight for injustice. This paper is about How the Black lives Matter came to be, the work they have accomplished for their community and the what they have yet to do to make life fairer to African Americans.
History of the movement
On March 3, 1991, Rodney King, who was a taxi driver, was brutally beaten by LAPD officers amid his capture for speeding on California State Route 210 (Linder, 1995-2018). A regular citizen, George Holliday, recorded the episode from his close-by gallery and sent the recording to nearby news station KTLA (Linder, 1995-2018). The George Holliday video, that played on TV so frequently that an official at CNN called it “wallpaper,” demonstrated three Los Angeles cops as their supervisor watchedkicking, stepping on, and beating with metal stick an apparently exposed and unarmed African-American (Linder, 1995-2018).
Surveys taken not long after the video demonstrated that over 90% of Los Angeles inhabitants who saw the tape trusted that the police utilized inordinate power in capturing King (Linder, 1995-2018). Notwithstanding the tape, a jury in Simi Valley closed the case a year later stating that the proof was not adequate to convict the officers (Linder, 1995-2018). Within hours of the jury’s decision, Los Angeles ejected in uproars (Linder, 1995-2018). And with the riots, more than fifty-four individuals had lost their lives, more than 7,000 individuals had been captured, and a huge number of dollars’ worth of property had been obliterated. All this was for the population to show how unhappy they were with the unfair results of the trials. (Linder, 1995-2018). Cases like this demonstrate that police violence against African American did not only start in 2012 with the murder of Trayvon Martin.
State-endorsed savagery against African Americans has been a reality in the United States as long as slavery was present. In fact, Frederick Harris discovered that evidence recorded from the Jim Crow era looks disturbingly similar to situations experienced by the black community today (Harris, 2015). For instance, a policeman shot and killed two black men, wounded the third one, and arrested the fourth one in a caf?©, in Freeport Long Island, in February 1946 (Harris, 2015). The reason why they were killed is because they were denied services and the police officer supposedly acted to prevent a possible uprising of local Negros (Harris, 2015). In numerous pockets of the urban North, the policing of Black migrants was just a parallel to the Jim Crow brutality that threatened them in the South (Harris, 2015).
The inquiry that ordinarily springs up when black individuals are murdered by police is whether or not it has anything to do with race (Harris, 2015). Numerous examinations do demonstrate that, indeed, race has an impact in making policemen pull the trigger all the more rapidly on black suspects than any other suspect (Harris, 2015). And it was because of these heinous acts that African Americans decided that it was time to take another stance for justice and social equality by coming up with the Black lives matter movement (Harris, 2015).
The movement of Black lives Matter officially started in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The event that triggered it was when a police officer shot and murdered an innocent black teenager (Baptiste, 2017). This put the black community through a stage of revolt (Baptiste, 2017). The movement came together to march through the streets from Baltimore all the way to Chicago, passing through Cleveland (Black Lives Matter, n.d.). The Ferguson case might have been the nation’s trigger but to Alicia Garza, a black activist, what drove her was the fatal murder of Trayvon Martin in Stanford, Florida on February 12, 2012 (Baptiste, 2017). She wrote on her Facebook page, in response to the murder I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter (Baptiste, 2017). She then, along with other activists such as Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, helped popularize the phrase through hashtags on twitter and other social medias (Baptiste, 2017). The movement officially started their plan of action in 2013 (Baptiste, 2017).
After the murder of Mike Brown in 2014 by the police officer Darren Wilson, it became clear that the movement needed to do something in order to show that the black community had had enough (Baptiste, 2017). Over 600 people made it to the gathering to support the Black community in St. Louis and show that the movement is the commencement of a revolution (Black Lives Matter, n.d.). The movement is now a member led global network of more than forty chapters (Black Lives Matter, n.d.).
Progress Made by the Movement
The movement of Black lives matter is hitting the five years bar period of change and evolution (Roberts, 2018). The movement has influenced millions of people and is inciting the truth out of people (Roberts, 2018). It has given us a framework and shows us what democracy really does look like (Roberts, 2018). It has given its people a voice to talk about what they believe in and stand against injustices such as police violence and the forms of racism experienced by the black community (Roberts, 2018). The BLM movement has succeeded in transforming how Americans talk about, think about, and organize for freedom (Roberts, 2018).
The BLM is a part of a coalition called the Movement of Black lives, and together they have been fighting and responding to high-profile police shootings of black people from 2014 to this day (Ransby, 2017). Their actions are reinvigorating the 21st-century racial-justice movement, and by extension the anti-racist left, by offering a better model for social movements (Ransby, 2017). The BLM movement is very different from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The Civil Rights movement tended to the common and political rights that were denied to black people (Harris, 2015) Some of those denials included access and utilization of housing, privilege to vote, guarantee of reasonable business and job openings, and opportunities without discrimination (Harris, 2015). The Civil Rights Activists did not straightforwardly stand up to the racialized debasement black individuals experienced, and many kept on encountering, because of the police (Harris, 2015).
What the Black Lives Matter movement has accomplished is significant; they switched the spotlight on police injustice towards black people (Economist, 2018). Official reactions to police killings, in some locations, are likewise changing (Economist, 2018). For example, in Chicago, changes are witnessed; a police officer is being tried for the murder of a young black male, he shot multiple times, while on duty (Economist, 2018). This is the first time a policeman is being tried like this for a murder since the 1970s (Economist, 2018).
Barbara Ransby, a scholarly in Chicago who simply distributed a past filled with BLM, considers it a movement on the move (Economist, 2018). Not only are they fighting against police viciousness, their attention has now spread to different social concerns such as strikingly sexual governmental issues and women’s liberation, among many others (Economist, 2018). Social justice groups used to be led by tyrannical and moderately aged men, who hold little intrigue for youths today (Harris, 2015). The new take on it is demonstrating that not only black lives matter and the youth is to be protected, but also it shows American society how to respect black lives (Harris, 2015) (Lowery, 2017).
Work to Be Done
However, the fight is not easy considering the fact that the current administration can be seen as racist. This is fairly problematic and will negatively impact the black community. For instance, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ opinions on drug war laws lead people to suspect that he is planning on walking away from the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce the number of killing on black people (Lowery, 2017). Jeff Sessions stated that federal investigations into police departments is damaging to officers’ morals and can lead to potential suicide (Lowery, 2017). Nevertheless, even though the Trump Administration is clearly challenging the BLM movement, this is not stopping them from their goals and objectives (Lowery, 2017). In 2017, a police officer was fired three days after he fatally shot a 15-year-old boy sitting in a car; he was later charged with the murder (Lowery, 2017). This is the result of the pressure from activists on city officials (Lowery, 2017).
Another thing that the BLM movement is working on is trying to stop mass incarceration afflicted on black people (Lowery, 2017). Mary Hook, an organizer with Black Lives Matter in Atlanta, stated that more than $33,000 was raised by Black Lives Matter activists and used to bail black mothers out of jail on Mother’s Day (Lowery, 2017). They are also working with the city council to try to make possession of a small quantity of marijuana punishable by a $75 fine instead of arrest. They are trying to force Atlanta’s mayor to examine how the police has been militarized, said Hook (Lowery, 2017).
The movement is still flourishing. Moreover, their actions to help the Black community spreads out more from fighting mass incarceration to food poison fed to poor black communities. All of this do not necessarily require attention from the media but as long as it incites changes, it helps the movement grow stronger. Black Lives Matter will forever be reminisced as the movement that acted and popularized what has now become an essential instrument in 21st-century which is the use of social medias (Roberts, 2018). That phenomenon is mainly referred to mediated mobilization (Roberts, 2018). BLM was the first U.S. social movement in history to use the internet and successfully spread itself out as a mass mobilization device through social medias (Roberts, 2018). The recent successes of movements, such as the Me Too, and the Times Up movement, would be inconceivable without the groundwork that BlackLivesMatter laid out for all revolutionary movements (Roberts, 2018).
A Black Lives Matter Memorial
When people think of terrorism they usually think of the use of violence, or a state of fear and submission produced by terrorization. In the memoir When They Call You a Terrorist, the author Patrisse Khan-Cullors, defines terrorism as a form of racism. Patrisse naturally describes racism this way because of how it has affected her and her family.
From a young age, she, her brothers, and her loved ones were singled out by law enforcement officers for nothing more than the color of their skin. This was when Patrisse began to define racism. It was only when her brother, Monte, was brutalized and accused of being a terrorist, that she began to realize that his accusers were the real terrorists. Her concept of racism had evolved from being a constant fear in her life to becoming a threat to the liberty and the freedom of black people. Patrice understands that discrimination is the motive behind both racism and terrorism, which is why they are the same to her.
Throughout her memoir Patrisse Khan-Cullors defines terrorism through her recollection of events such as when she and her brothers Paul and Monte were young children. They all lived in neighborhood of Van Nuys. Van Nuys had no parks, no playgrounds, and no community centers. She remembers the police in their cars patrolling the neighborhood all a day, every day. The next best place to hang out was the alleyway near their apartment building. The police blocked the alleyway and Patrisse is watching them from behind a wrought iron gate. The police officers throw the boys up against the wall, make them pull up their shirts, turn their pockets inside out, and frisk them in a rough manner. She does not scream or even cries, she watches intently, frozen with fear. This is her first encounter with what she believes is terrorism.
For Patrisse and her family a new terror sets in when her brother Monte, at the age of nineteen, is arrested and faces a charge of attempted robbery. For two long months at the Twin Towers Detention Center, their mother repeatedly calls and desperately tries to contact her son. After multiple attempts and visitations to the facility, she is finally allowed to see her son, only to find him in an alarming physical state. She describes him as being emaciated, beaten, and bruised. They deprived him of water and drugged him to the point he could not speak a full understandable sentence. Their mother was informed that her son was diagnosed with having schizoaffective disorder by the jails’ psychiatrist. This would explain why Monte would have manic disorder episodes but does not explain why they treated him so inhumanely. Throughout the family’s times of adversities her mother, Cherice, set an example for her children to stay resilient during turmoil and terrorism.
In the years following Patrisse is living with her husband Mark Anthony in the community of St. Elmo’s Village mid-city Los Angeles, California. In this community the residents felt safe enough not to lock their doors. One late morning upon Patrisse arriving back from spending time with friends she encountered the police raiding her home. The police gained access through the back door, yanked her husband out of bed and arrested him. The police explained that he fits the description of a person of interest who was related to several robberies in the area.
Close your eyes and come close. Try to imagine with me: You are a graduate student whose work is in Chinese medicine. Your dream is to be a healer. And maybe while you are sleeping in your wife’s bed, where artist live and children come for free painting classes, maybe you are dreaming that you are saving a life, and in the midst of that dreaming, you are yanked out of bed by armed men dressed in riot gear, who possess no warrant, who have snuck into your bedroom through an unlocked back door. Their only reasoning is that you fit the description (Khan-Cullors 195).
Patrisse describes not being afraid, but feeling angry when she sees her husband, the healer, in hand cuffs and demands a better explanation as to why they are accusing him based on his profile. The police eventually backed down as neighbors start taking a stand with Patrisse and Mark Anthony, and finally they remove the hand cuffs.
The following textural evidence conveys that racial bias is still an ominous issue in today’s world. Police in the California city, where only 6% of the population is black, worked with federal authorities to arrest 37 people, all of whom were black, for selling small amounts of drugs, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said in a complaint announced on Thursday, October 4, 2018. During the operations, one undercover officer was caught on camera declining to buy drugs from an Asian woman and waiting to buy from a black woman, who was later prosecuted. The suit focused on San Francisco police collaborations with the US Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors in 2013 and 2014, but the ACLU has alleged that the discriminatory policing and harassment of black people in the city has continued. We’ve seen time and time again how racial bias has infected the San Francisco police department’s ability to administer equal enforcement of the law, Novella Coleman, an ACLU staff attorney, said in an interview (Levin).
Those who have not had the same experiences as Patrisse may argue that comparing racism with terrorism is too much of a stretch. However, it is because of these encounters that Patrisse has had with racism, that she makes this connection. She has witnessed the unjustified brutality, prejudices, and horrific acts that have been placed upon her race. These are the same conditions one would see in a setting filled with terrorist activity. Patrisse has taken her life’s experiences and has become a courageous visionary.
Goals Of Black Lives Matter Movement
In the United States in February of 2012, the nation felt a mixture of emotions. This including being both disturbed and confused about the recent and horrifying tragedy of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. In the area that Martin had been staying at in Sanford, Florida, a neighborhood watch had been formed in response to the high crime rate that had been frequently occurring.
George Zimmerman regularly watched over the neighborhood with his firearm that he was licensed to carry and was the man on duty the night that Trayvon Martin died. According to CNN journalist Greg Botelho, Zimmerman had followed Martin who had left his home at night to go shop at 7-Eleven.
Zimmerman was instructed by the policemen he had contacted to not follow the 17-year-old, but he disobeyed their orders. Martin, who had been running at times on his way back home, knowing that he was being followed, was fatally shot in the chest by Zimmerman. Zimmerman would go on to say that he acted out of self-defense however, further police investigations as well as the 7-Eleven camera footage of Martin shows that there is no evidence that Martin was acting in a threatening way to anyone. With that said, Martin’s family, along with thousands of others, believe that Zimmerman had racially profiled Trayvon Martin and that was the reason that he was targeted (Botelho 2012).
George Zimmerman was arrested for his actions however, on July 13, 2013, he was acquitted and rendered not guilty on all counts. After this, social activists began to spring up in hopes to seek both justice and change. In the United States, the social movement that is the most recognizable is Black Lives Matter. This movement wanted to change the urgent issue in the United States of racial injustices inflicted towards African Americans, which still exists today. However, many Americans are unsure of how to feel about this movement and they question its productivity in achieving any of its main goals. I believe that the Black Lives Matter Movement has achieved most of the goals it set up upon its creation in 2013, making the movement relatively successful.
- 1 Narration
- 2 Partition
- 3 Confirmation
- 4 Refutation
- 5 Conclusion
Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi were the three women who started the Black Lives Matter Movement, in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman. According to the official Black Lives Matter website, Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It began as a call to action, or as author Nikita Carney called it in the journal Humanity and Society, The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation (Carney 180-199). To summarize this concisely, these quotes mean that the main goals of the movement when it first formed were to create an awareness of systemic racism towards blacks in America, to allow blacks to struggle through this together, and to stop the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state (Herstory 2014). It is important to define key terms like systemic racism because they are vital to understanding the bigger picture. Systemic racism means that there are core racist realities that are manifested in each of society’s major parts. This includes individual, institutional, and structural forms of racism in the United States (Cole 2018).
Once again, the Black Lives Matter Movement’s main goals upon its creation in 2013 included creating an awareness of the systemic racism towards African Americans in the United States, allowing blacks to struggle through this together, and stopping the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted upon African Americans by the state. I will fully examine each of these goals to determine if they have been achieved. This is necessary in determining if the movement has been successful. Firstly, I will argue that the movement has created an awareness of systemic racism by looking at the growth of the movement over the years. Then, I will argue that the movement has allowed blacks to struggle together due to the number of organized protests set up throughout the country. Finally, although there are many statistics out there that provide different numbers and types of statistics, there are estimates that show that the number of African Americans shot and killed by police enforcement in the United States has decreased over the past few years. With these three things taken into consideration, I will come to the conclusion that the Black Lives Matter Movement has fulfilled its main goals, thereby making it an overall success. I will also address the common opposing argument which says that the movement has been unsuccessful because it has not achieved its main goal of decreasing the number of African Americans killed by police enforcement in the United States.
A whole new dimension of the Black Lives Matter Movement was created following the tragic death of Michael Brown who was fatally shot by police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. The Black Life Matters Ride was organized and held in Ferguson a few weeks after the tragic death of Michael Brown, in an effort to protest this type of police brutality. For fifteen days, the protestors stood their ground in the streets of Ferguson despite being tear gassed and pepper sprayed day after day. When the protest concluded, eighteen people went back to their home cities and set up Black Lives Matter chapters there. There are now over thirty chapters set up in the United States. This ultimately helps their cause to grow, as does the attention it receives on the social media platform Twitter (Herstory 2014). #BlackLivesMatter was trending all over social media after Michael Brown’s death, helping to spread awareness to millions of people globally. Celebrities and athletes all over the world also often took to Twitter to publicly share their support for the cause. This was important because they were the ones who supported the movement publicly. This included arguably the most recognizable athlete on the planet, LeBron James, who would often remain silent on certain issues during his interviews, and later make his voice heard by tweeting out a hashtag having to do with them (Cassilo 427).
From July 18, 2016 through May 1, 2018, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has been used on Twitter an average of 15,856 times daily. Tweets with this hashtag would usually consist of one of the following topics; fatal police-related encounters, violent acts in general, police and law enforcement, national politicians and political parties, race, or protests (Anderson 2018). Over the past five years the hashtag has consistently remained relevant, which proves that it has not lost its ability to create public awareness. There is no denying the growth that this movement has seen as shown in the number of chapters set up throughout the country, along with the amount of attention it received on social media. This is why I believe that the Black Lives Matter Movement has successfully achieved its first goal of creating a nationwide awareness of the systemic racism inflicted upon African Americans in the United States.
The movements next main goal was to allow African Americans in the United States to struggle together. The way that they have achieved this is through the peaceful protests that were organized all across the country. University of Kent professor, Dr. Richard Norman, wrote an article in 2017 where he discussed the reasons why protests in general are so important. In this article, he talks about how protests start a debate. I believe that they first create and awareness of a potential issue which leads to debate, which ideally would lead to a change being made. He also states that by protesting, people realize that they are not alone (Norman 2012). I could not agree more with Dr. Norman’s statement. This is because I believe that there is a sense of unity among any protesters, which can be reassuring to them that they are not alone.
It will also provide them with hope that they will overcome the issue that they are protesting. In this case of course, the protests pertain to specific injustices inflicted upon African Americans in the United States. The most common example of this that the country has seen is police brutality. Over the past 1,580 days, there have been at least 2,588 Black Lives Matter protests in the United States (Robinson 2018). This amount of protests, held at different times throughout the year, and held at different locations all throughout the United States ensures that all African Americans, or anyone who wants to support the movement, has the opportunity to attend if they wish to do so. This is the reason why I argue that the Black Lives Matter Movement has achieved its second main goal of allowing blacks to struggle though this together.
The third and final main goal the movement upon its creation in 2013, was to stop the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted upon African Americans in the United States. I believe that the movement has also successfully achieved this goal. Firstly, I will have to determine what exactly is meant by rampant and deliberate violence (Herstory 2014). Because of all of the media coverage over the past five years, the topics discussed in the tweets that had #BlackLivesMatter in them, and the purposes of all of the protests throughout the country, I am concluding that the rampant and deliberate violence means police brutality shown towards African Americans. Police brutality is the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police (Mastrine 2018). The most serious form of police brutality and the form that has sparked a large amount of Black Lives Matter protests in response is when an innocent or non-threatening civilian is fatally shot by law enforcement. To stop anything that is on as large of a scale as this may just about be impossible, or at the very least it would take a lot longer than a couple of years to accomplish. Therefore, I am measuring the success of this goal by determining if the number of this form of police brutality over the past few years has stopped increasing.
It is easy for some people to assume that African Americans are killed a much higher rate than any other race in the United States, because of all the media coverage on tragic shooting and Black Lives Matter protests. However, it may be surprising for these people to hear that this is not the case. In fact, whites are killed at a significantly higher rate by law enforcement than African Americans. However, this does not mean that African Americans are not killed at an alarming rate. The reason why the number of African Americans killed by the police is so disturbing is because African Americans only make up thirteen percent of the entire United States population. This correlation between the low population and high amount of deaths by law enforcement is exactly why the Black Lives Matter Movement first began.
According to senior reporter of the Guardian, Jon Swaine, in 2015 there were 1,136 deaths at the hands of law enforcement. African Americans made up twenty seven percent of this total. These statistics show that African Americans were killed at a much higher rate than any other race in the United States. Unarmed black Americans were killed at five times the rate of unarmed white Americans in 2015. The following year in 2016, Swaine reported that there were 1,091 deaths at the hands of law enforcement in the United States. The percentage of African Americans killed in this year decreased from twenty seven percent to twenty four percent. In 2017 however, the percentage rose back up to twenty seven percent as 1,129 deaths were recorded (D’Onofrio 2018). This means that the number of African Americans fatally killed by police officers in the United States has not increased over the past few years. It is for this reason why I believe that the movement has successfully achieved its third main goal.
There are obviously arguments that opposes the one that I have made concerning this issue. I find that it is important to address the most common of these arguments to further support my conclusion. This opposing argument says that the Black Lives Matter Movement has not been successful as it has not achieved the most important goal that it set upon its creation in 2013. Those that believe in this often say that the most important goal set up by the movement was to stop police brutality against African Americans in the United States, or at least see a significant decrease over the past few years. They will argue that all of the statistics that exist on the issue are remarkably unreliable and do not show a significant decrease. I personally believe that even if there is not a significant decrease in police brutality against blacks, that the Black Lives Matter Movement has still been a success. This is because they did achieve their other two main goals and there has not been an increase in police brutality against blacks in the past few years.
There is one part of the opposing argument that I recognize I will have to concede to. It is, in fact, true that there is no single source that keeps reliable records of this kind of information. The information I am examining simply comes from whatever those sources were able to record over the years. Every source may have different types of statistics or the same type, yet they may come to a different conclusion because their numbers are different. This is most definitely a problem and needs to be addressed sooner than later. The FBI does not require police officers to report the racial demographics of a person involved in a fatal incident. Police can also opt out of reporting other details of these fatal incidents that would be important, such as how and why a person was killed (Swaine & McCarthy 2017).
These pieces of information are vital in examining whether police brutality towards African Americans has increased or decreased over the past few years. This is the part of the opposing argument that both sides can agree that coming up with a conclusion to the third main goal of the movement would be much easier to do if there was this information existed and was reliable and accessible. Therefore, I’m sure people on both sides of the argument would like to see the FBI require police officers to report all of the information when a fatal incident occurs.
To conclude my argument, I will review what the issue was and what my position on the issue consists of. The Black Lives Matter Movement was created in 2013 in response to the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Martin was unarmed and innocent yet was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. Thousands of other situations like this occurred, such as the killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Nationwide, people turned to the movement to bring about a positive change to injustes like these. Upon its creation, the movement created three main goals that they would set out to achieve. These issues were: to create an awareness of systemic racism towards blacks in America, to allow blacks to struggle through this together, and to stop the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted upon blacks.
I have come to the conclusion that the Black Lives Matter Movement can be considered a success due to the success it has had in achieving its main goals. The movement created an awareness of systemic racism in the United States through social media platforms as well as through the thirty chapters set up throughout the country. The movement has also allowed blacks to struggle together through the thousands of protests that have taken place in the last three years. Finally, there has not been an increase in police brutality against African Americans over the past four years. The way that I interpreted this, this fulfills their third main goal of stopping the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted upon African Americans.
Black Lives Matter Against Police Brutality
African Americans have suffered at the hands of law enforcement for far too long. Black Lives Matter is a movement created to bring awareness to police brutality and diminish it. In Dani McClain’s article, Black Lives Matter: What Comes After the Hashtag?, she proceeds to discuss how social media sparked the BLM movement and all of the campaigns that were created to help those oppressed by the law.
Similar to this, in Josh Bowers’ article, Annoy No Cop, he explains how the enemy in this play are the officers themselves. Although Bowers’ does make a reasonable argument, he seems a bit too close minded, whereas McClain stands with the BLM movement and discusses the positive impact it has on those that have suffered loss.
In Bowers’ article, he argues that officers are exercising their power over the people. He touches on the Black Lives Matter Movement, but he does not go into detail about what it has done to benefit African Americans; he mostly discusses the downsides of the law between a civilian and a law enforcement official. He explains this by saying :if the officer’s legal and factual mistakes are deemed reasonable, then his conduct -the arrest- is constitutional. In turn, I am subjected to a different constraint. and in public, possess no open containers of something that an officer reasonably could believe to be alcohol (even if it not) in a manner he reasonably could believe violates the law (even if it does not). The end result is that the officer has the opportunity to arrest me with neither sufficient proof of a criminal act not even an applicable criminal statue. My autonomy is constrained by the reasonable officer’s belief, evaluated from his perspective (Bowers 134). The purpose of BLM was to empower those traumatized by the recent events, but Bowers does not go into detail on that.
In McClain’s article, she provides a deeper insight on the BLM movement; she touches on the topic of activists who suffer from depression and she supplies information on the events leading up to the movement, as well as details of activists and their accomplishments. Unlike many authors, McClain gives insight on the lives of those who support BLM. She begins by introducing Sandra Bland’s distress signals before committing suicide. Another tragic incident, MarShawn McCarrel, posted on his Facebook page before fatally shooting himself on the steps of his state’s capitol. Since their deaths, word has spread about Black Lives Matter activists having depression. (McClain 18).
McClain then explores the accomplishments that the activists have achieved. After the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, hundred of students in Miami-Dade and Broward counties protested on the fact that the Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, hadn’t been arrested on any charges. Umi Selah and others in a college activist group organized a forty mile (forty miles for forty days that Zimmerman remained free) march from Daytona Beach to the Sanford Police Department. About a year later, Zimmerman was claimed not guilty on charges of second-degree murder/manslaughter. Angered by this, the Dream Defenders arrived in Tallahassee and occupied the Florida statehouse for 4 weeks as an attempt to push Republican Governor Rick Scott to call a special legislative session to review the state’s stand your ground law, racial profiling, and school push-out policies, all of which the organization linked to Martin’s death. (19).
Following those events was the death of Michael Brown. McClain continues to address the massive twitter feud regarding the incident on November 24, 2014, when the St. Louis County prosecutor announced that a grand jury had determined not to press charges against the officer responsible for Michael Brown’s demise, Darren Wilson. Weeks later, when the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death in New York City was also not indicted, 4.4 million tweets over a period of seven days kept the nation’s attention focused on the fight for police accountability. Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson, #HandsUpDontShoot and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown gave users including those not yet involved in activism a way to contribute to conversations they cared about. (20).
The purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement is so much more than officer vs citizen. It is about human rights. As McClain stated, Today’s racial-justice movement demands an end to the disproportionate killing of black people by law-enforcement officials and vigilantes. (20)
African Americans have undergone torment and suffering since the days of Jim Crow, and continue to do so today. Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.
A Fight Against Racism
Racism has been a part of society since the beginning of time. People are not born with racist ideas or attitudes. Racism is something, an individual learns over time.
Racism does not usually cause any harm to the person being racist. It is usually the receiver who ends up being hurt the most. It affects the community and our society just as equally as it hurts the individual (Connie). To face racism and police brutality the black community, started a movement known as the Black Lives Matter movement back in 2013. This movement started off as a hashtag movement back in 2013 when Alicia Garza responded on her Facebook page to the clearing of George Zimmerman, the man who gunned down Trayvon Martin (Carter).
Since then it has gained a lot of following through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you were to log onto any of these platforms today and just type in #blacklivesmatter numerous results show up. This just shows how many people have partaken in this movement and how huge it has become over the past couple of years. With the help of social media, this movement has been able to get its word across to numerous individuals all around the globe. Even though this movement is empowering in many ways, there are individuals who tend to find the negative aspect of it. Some tend to believe that people who support this movement, do not mind other races getting affected. One of the major argument about this movement is that it only cares about black life when white people are the ones responsible for taking it, and ignoring it when African American people are responsible for certain events of violence in black communities (Smith).
I do not agree with this because, the Black Lives Matter movement, is centered around all events affecting the black community, no matter what the race of the individual who conducted the crime is. Even though race plays a significant part in this movement, so does police brutality. As Stephen states in the Get up, Stand up: Social Media Helps Black Lives Matter Fight the Power, The movement wins when there’s a broad understanding that we need a system that doesn’t kill people, when a critical mass of citizens can envision what that looks like, and when concrete steps are taken to make it happen. Stephen makes a good point about how developing a system that doesn’t kill people right at the spot of witnessing a crime being committed, but instead giving the individual an opportunity to state their side of the story, can be beneficial to our country as a whole. We would not lose any more innocent individuals to such brutality. Police brutality is usually known as using unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. There are many different forms of police brutality. The most common form of police brutality is a physical form. Police officers can use guns, tasers, pepper spray, and batons, in order to physically terrorize or even intentionally hurt civilians (Danilina).
Infact, as Danilina mentioned, The history of police brutality dates all the way back to the Industrial Revolution in the 1870s when law enforcement would physically abuse and harm the workers that went on a strike (Danilina). Police brutality in the black community was the reason why the Black Lives Matter movement began in the first place. It began with the incident of Trayvon Martin was shot by his neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Martin was carrying iced tea and candy as he walked from a convenience store back to his father’s fiancee house when Zimmerman noticed him and believed him to be a suspicious person in his neighborhood. Zimmerman’s claim was that Martin hit him, and he took out his gun and shot it in self-defense. Later in 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted of a second-degree murder (Simon).
A similar incident occurred in July of 2014 in Staten Island, New York when Eric Garner was put into a chokehold by a police officer and ended up dying as he could not breathe because he suffered from asthma. Garner was a father of six, who the police tried to arrest, in front of a store for allegedly selling cigarettes. The jury, later on, declined to indict the police officer who put Garner in a chokehold, causing protests and die-ins (Simon). This is seen as a sign of police brutality because the New York Police Department prohibits the use of chokeholds to be used, and still, the police officer insisted on utilizing it. Even though, it was his fault and absolutely against the law, the court and the jury declined to indict him. I believe that this incident can be seen as both racism and police brutality, because as stated in the article Garner raised both of his hands in the air and asked the officers not to shoot him, (Simon) showing that he was willing to cooperate. But instead of letting Garner talk and say his side of the story the police officers put him in a chokehold. If this incident occurred where a white man was selling cigarettes, the police officers would have happily cooperated with him and let him tell his side of the story.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been one of the most controversial topics in recent years. Many African Americans experience verbal and physical abuse. The slogan All Lives Matter is explained to have equality across all races and religions, though this is not the case. In November 2015, President Donald Trump said the Blacks were responsible for more than 97% of murders of Blacks and 82% of murders of Whites. Both statistics are wrong, the latter monstrously so: African-Americans accounted for about 15% of murders of Whites, according to FBI data (Smith). Many White people are content to see when they are blaming the Blacks for deaths and calling to the end of the issue. During President Trump’s campaign, if he was elected he would make stricter laws and even enforce death penalty if a police officer is killed. Even though a president does not have the authority to do such, his primary goal was to attune backlash towards the Blacks.
This account changed the direction of the movement and obscures the critique of violence, inequality, and failings at all levels of the criminal justice system (Smith). In 2014 and 2016 there were three ambush murders in New York, Baton Rouge, and Dallas (Smith). These accidents were committed by a gunman that wanted to seek revenge against police force for the violence resisting to the Black communities (Smith). Nevertheless, the Black Lives Matter movement backlash has gone out of reach, and one of the examples is the former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. He said Black Lives Matter never protests when every 14 hours someone is killed in Chicago, probably 70-80% of the time by a Black person. Where are they then? Where are they when a young Black child is killed?. This argument is a popular one because the blacks are being blamed when the White were responsible for taking their lives (Smith). Like the slogan All Lives Matter, it is a way of changing the subject (Smith).
For the Black Lives Matter Movement to make it to the point where there is a change in society there needs to be civil disobedience, legal challenges, and new laws. These things all contribute to change occurring in a society (Siscoe). The different chapters across the United States are staging protests that cause an interruption in people’s lives and bring attention to the movement in order to get more awareness in the society for the controversial problem (Siscoe). All this movement has to do is cause enough ruckus so it reaches the screens of thousands of individuals in various parts of the world. Once it does this, and individuals realize what has been happening is wrong they will come together and fight as a community to get new laws or even change the laws that preexist. As Siscoe mentions one of the analyses of the Black Lives Matter Movement is that it is troublesome and the protests cause a little discomfort in people’s lives. Though this is not the goal of the movement, in order to get more attention to the public, the problem needs to be heard by creating tension in the society.
The main goal of the Black Lives Matter Movement is to fight the colorblind racism and change mindset and system of the American citizens. The freedom that allows the Black communities to allow large social movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement to grow and bring change to the face of the society, and change the view for the better. As Siscoe mentions this movement works at many different levels, it understands how the general population’s beliefs about crime and racism work against any sort of reform to lower the racial disparities that are widespread throughout every level of the criminal justice system. Now the hashtag #blacklivesmatter has brought more attention to the communities and especially the government of America. In recent years, you can see how many people have understood the movement and have partaken in it.
Many people around the globe are now seeing the negative effects of the brutality that the Blacks are unfortunately going through. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a social movement seeing the different races and ethinicites and bringing awareness that everyone matters. This movement is a theory in a world where Black lives are intentionally targeted to make it seem as they’re the only ones responsible for any incident caused. And for this reason, I believe that Black Lives Matter movement is important and should be noticed worldwide.
Brutality And Inequality In United States
In the United States, 72.4% percent of the population is Caucasian and 12.6% are African American, as found on worldpopulationreview.com. The difference between the two percentages is 59.8%. But why is this information useful, you may ask? Well, because African Americans are often oppressed by their white counterparts. We see news about African Americans being shot by police officers or White citizens in self defense. African Americans are being racially profiled in their daily lives, resulting in the Black Lives Matter movement. The Black Lives Matter is a necessary movement because of the brutality and inequality African Americans endure.
The Black Lives Matter, also known as BLM, is an organization that is chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes (blacklivesmatter.com). This movement was formed after the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old African American.
Since the Black Lives Movement, there has been an increase in awareness of racial profiling, resulting in prison and worse, death. According to Google, racial profiling is defined as the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offense. Black Lives Matter: A Call to Action for Counseling Psychology Leaders, written by Candice Hargons, talks about the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice. She writes in the article that …in 2015 Black people were killed at more than twice the rate of non-Latino white people, and Black men were nine times more likely to die at the hands of police officers(Hargons 875).
In the same year, statistics also showed that police shot and killed 36 unarmed black males, as in Nationwide, police shot and killed nearly 1,000 people in 2017 by John Sullivan. In Nikole Hannah-Jones article called, Taking Freedom: Yes, Black American fears the Police. Here’s Why, she talks about an incident in her local town involving a mentally ill man and two officers. At the height of the BLM, tensions were high and many African Americans were upset and hurt with all of the killings. The mentally ill man shot two police officers, making matters worse. As Nikole and her husband, both African American, went to the precinct where the two officers worked, and was not greeted by the officers at the front desk, They were only acknowledged after her husband broke the silence. The very next day, she drove by the precinct again and saw metal barricades as well as two helmeted officers [that] stood sentry out front, gripping big black assault rifles, and watching. The officers weren’t there to protect the city or the people, they were standing outside to protect themselves (Hannah-Jones). This action goes to show that they believe that African Americans were going to cause another crime. Philip Smith, the president of the National African-American Gun Association, feels the stereotype that African Americans receive. Smith said, When you walk up to a situation as an officer, I think a lot of times there’s an assumption that the black guy is the issue or the problem, Smith said. When you have those stereotypes that are ingrained in your mind, it can be a death warrant for a lot of our black men, unfortunately’ (Eligon)
BLM was first organized after an African American 17-year old named Trayvon Martin was fatally shot while on the way to the local convenience store to buy a drink and sweets in Sanford, Florida. What happened the night Trayvon Martin died written by Greg Botelho, goes into further detail about the night of the incident. His shooter, George Zimmerman was assigned to be the head volunteer neighborhood watch after there was an increase in crime in the neighborhood. According to Trayvon Martin Biography, the teenager was staying with his father and his girlfriend after he was given a school suspension for the third time. The night that Martin was shot, he was wearing a black hoodie, with the hoodie over his head. Reports show that Zimmerman called the local police to report about a guy that looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining, and he’s just walking around, and was told to stay in the vehicle he was in (Botelho). Instead of staying in the vehicle, Zimmerman decided to take matters into his own hands and confront the young teen. No one truly knows what happened during the confrontation, however, as we know, it lead to the death of Trayvon Martin. Once the public heard about this shooting, tables turned and they weren’t happy. Zimmerman was initially not charged with murder as he said it was self-defense, but it wasn’t until a public outcry that Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter (Botelho).
An incident similar to the killing of Trayvon Martin is the shooting of Jordan Davis, also a 17-year old African American boy. According to an article written by Kristal Brent Kook called, The Lessons of Jordan Davis’s Murder, Revisited Jordan Davis and 3 of his friends stopped at a gas station to purchase gum and cigarettes before heading to the local mall on November 23, 2012. Davis and his friends were approached by 45-year old Michael Dunn, who was in a vehicle with his fiance. Dunn and his fiance were in the Jacksonville area to attend his son’s wedding. The 45-year old has asked the teenagers to turn down the music in their car as it was loud. Initially, they did turn down the music. However, Davis was …tired of people telling me what to do,’ and turned the music back up. Davis and Dunn exchanged words, cursing and yelling at each other. According to the testimony of Davis’ friends Dunn asked, Are you talking to me? again putting his car window down. You’re not going to talk to me that way.’ Dunn then took matters into his own hands by reaching into his glove compartment for a pistol then fired ten shots into the boys’ car. As much as Dunn had been upset about the situation, there was no need to fire 10 shots at a vehicle with 4 young teens. While in court, Dunn’s fiance Rouer recalls him telling her that he ..hate[d] that thug music. Dunn then goes on to say that he would’ve never said thug music, instead, he would’ve said rap crap. Dunn was later found guilty and sentenced 75 years in prison without parole (Kook).
A recent incident that has caught attention of the public happened on Thanksgiving in a Birmingham, Alabama mall. According to Black Man Killed by Officer in Alabama Mall Shooting Was Not the Gunman, Police Now Say by Mihir Zaveri, shoppers were making their way around the store, enjoying the extended hours and Black Friday deals stores had to offer. It was then around 9:52 p.m. when there were reports of gunshots. By the time the altercation was done, 21-year old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was fatally shot by the police who responded to the scene. It was first reported by the Hoover Police Department on Twitter that Bradford may have been involved [with the shooting] in some aspect’ (Zaveri) However, it was later then found that Bradford was not involved with the shooting. As the incident happened just recently, not much information has been released about. however, according to an article written by Daniel Victor called Black Man Killed by Police in Alabama Was Shot From Behind, Autopsy Shows his family said, Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. pulled out a gun and rushed to protect shoppers. Witnesses of the incident later confirmed this and commented that Bradford, …was directing shoppers to safety (Victor). When autopsy reports came out, it showed that he was running away [from the scene] and posed no threat to the officer who shot him (Victor). This shows the stereotype that police officers have on African Americans. The officers should have questioned Bradford first before firing shots that would ultimately end his life.
Living in the United States, African Americans fear for their lives. The reason why African Americans are fearing for their lives is because young black men are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than young white men as well as face ongoing everyday slights and indignities at the hands of police (Hannah-Jones). The likelihood of a black man being shot is just way too high, higher than it should be. Compared to an African American, the chances of a White person to be shot is 2.9 out of a million, less than 1%. A majority of the White people do not know how privileged they are, something called white privilege. According to Urban Dictionary, white privilege is the perceived societal privilege that benefits people whom society identifies as white. As they unconsciously have this privilege, they do not have to worry about being stopped at a traffic stop or be scared for their lives on the streets of their town. White people, by and large, do not know what it is like to be occupied by a police force. They don’t understand it because it is not the type of policing they experience (Hannah-Jones).
Black Lives Matter started out as a hashtag that was initially used after the death of Trayvon Martin to show anger and injustice. The hashtag was used on many social media sites, but was predominately used on Twitter. Rashawn Ray wrote an article called, Ferguson and the death of Michael Brown on Twitter: #BlackLivesMatter, #TCOT, and the evolution of Collective identities to talk about the correlation social media has to the BLM. In the article, it states Twitter was an echo chamber to the movement. Echo chambers lead to territorial desegregation, polarization, and isolation and highlight how people obtain and use information to build communities where their majority position is represented (Ray 1799). The movement also refers to an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally target for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression'(qoted by Garza, 877). As much as BLM protests and promotes equality, and injustice, they also strive to …reduce internalized racism and its consequences. They promote self-love, collective efficacy, increased joy, as well as resilience (Hargons).
With all of this information, we can not say that there is no brutality and inequality that African Americans are faced with on a daily basis. As all of these incidents are happening to African Americans, it makes one wonder what would happen if roles were reversed. What would’ve happened if Trayvon Martin was a white teenager? What if Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was a white male carrying a gun, trying to help innocent people escape? If Michael Dunn was 45-year old African American man shooting at 4 teenage Caucasian boys listening to pop music (Zook)? Would the events be handled in a different way?
- Botelho, Greg. What Happened the Night Trayvon Martin Died. CNN, Cable News Network, 23 May 2012, www.cnn.com/2012/05/18/justice/florida-teen-shooting-details/index.html.
- Eligon, John. An Alabama Mall Shooting, a Black Man’s Death, and a Debate Over Race andGuns. The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Nov. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/11/29/us/alabama-mall-shooting.html?rref=collection%2Ftimest opic%2FPolice%2BBrutality%2Band%2BMisconduct.
- Hannah-Jones, Nikole. Taking Freedom: Yes, Black America Fears the Police. Here’s Why.Pacific Standard, Pacific Standard, 10 Apr. 2018,psmag.com/social-justice/why-black-america-fears-the-police.
- Hargons, Candice, et al. Black Lives Matter: A Call to Action for Counseling Psychology Leaders. The Counseling Psychologist, vol. 45, no. 6, 2017, pp. 873901.
- Ray, Rashawn, et al. Ferguson and the Death of Michael Brown on Twitter:#BlackLivesMatter, #TCOT, and the Evolution of Collective Identities. Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 40, no. 11, 2017, pp. 17971813.
- Trayvon Martin. Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 1 Aug. 2018, www.biography.com/people/trayvon-martin-21283721.
- Sullivan, John, et al. Nationwide, Police Shot and Killed Nearly 1,000 People in 2017. The Washington Post, WP Company, 6 Jan. 2018,
- Victor, Daniel. Black Man Killed by Police in Alabama Was Shot From Behind, Autopsy Shows. The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Dec. 2018,www.nytimes.com/2018/12/04/us/alabama-mall-shooting-autopsy.html.
- Zaveri, Mihir. Black Man Killed by Officer in Alabama Mall Shooting Was Not the Gunman, Police Now Say. The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Nov. 2018,
- www.nytimes.com/2018/11/24/us/alabama-mall-shooting.html?rref=collection%2Ftimest opic%2FPolice%2BBrutality%2Band%2BMisconduct.
- Zook, Kristal Brent. The Lessons of Jordan Davis’s Murder, Revisited. The Nation, 21 Nov.2015, www.thenation.com/article/the-lessons-of-jordan-daviss-murder-revisited/.
White Discomfort and Black Lives
- 1 White Discomfort and Black Lives
- 2 Works Cited
White Discomfort and Black Lives
If you have been watching the news, browsing social media, or tuning in to your local radio stations, you may have heard about what seems to be an influx of white people in America calling 911 on black people who are doing nothing more than existing while black. Though this seems like a new trend meant to put people who seem out of place in their place, this is nothing new. Especially to the victims who have authorities called on them for doing nothing more than trying to exist in a world that isn’t always welcoming to that.
From simply cooking out in designated areas in a park, to a child exiting a corner store with his mother, false accusations and modern day Black Codes enforced against people of color, especially black people in America are not only inconvenient and wrong, but dangerous. Police brutality has been a hot topic across the nation and putting black people in situations where they can be harmed, or even worst, killed, when no crime has been committed should be considered a hate crime. Allowing people to continue to get away with tying up emergency lines and utilizing them as their own customer service line to voice their displeasure when they believe that white comfort is more important than black lives is not a reflection of liberty and justice for all.
America does not have the most beautiful beginning. There has been racial tension and separation of people by race from the very beginning. Simply put, racism is defined as power plus prejudice (Ponds). Though many may say one race does not have more power than another in America, that is simply untrue. There are disparities between the way officials and authorities respond to white and non-white Americans. Officers are more likely to side with white people over black people because implicit biases make them believe white people are more trustworthy. Half of black people in Americans surveyed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public health said they had experienced racial discrimination at the hands of police officers (Neel).
This isn’t surprising due to the racist origin of the police force in America. From tracking and kidnaping of runaway slaves to the intervention and dismantling of necessary civil rights movements, historically, the police force has enforced laws to hinder the progression of civil rights movements in minority communities (7 Racial Bias and Disparities in Proactive Policing). Many of these encounters did not end in pleasant and peaceful dismantling. They were violent. They ended in lives being taken and families being destroyed because the majority deemed the minority had no rights or did not belong. (Beer)
History tends to repeat itself, and here we are in 2018 still having the police called on black people in our country for existing. If crimes were being committed there would be a need for police intervention, however barbecuing, parking, waiting in Starbucks, leaving a bodega, and planting in your community garden are not crimes. Discomfort based on implicit biases should not lead to potentially dangerous police interactions. Black people are only 13% of the American population however they account for over 20% of police killings. Almost double the rate of the general population, even when nonviolent and unarmed (Beer).
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson entered a Starbucks and had been there for only a few minutes when the police were called on them for not ordering quickly enough, even though Starbucks is known to be a communal gathering place for people to chat and utilize free Wi-Fi, whether they ordered anything or not. This resulted in a lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia where the young men settled out of court and Starbucks closed their stores for an entire day for a training on racial biases and discrimination. Lolade Sinyonbola fell asleep in the lounge at Yale, where she is a graduate after working on what she described as a marathon of papers. She was awakened by police telling her an individual felt she did not belong. Police did acknowledge she was a student at the institution and the issue was not a police matter. Three teens in St. Louis were greeted by authorities after shopping in Nordstrom. Police searched the teens, their bags, and their car, eventually letting them go after verifying their receipts. Nordstrom Rack’s president issued a statement and apology noting that protocol was not followed in relation to the situation with said teens. In California three black Airbnb guests had the police called on them for not waving at or greeting neighbors as they would have liked for them too. This resulted in a helicopter coming to the scene and the guests being questioned and embarrassed. Airbnb describes the event as unconscionable (Victor).
A community activist and non profit owner in Detroit lost several contracts, money, and even his credibility due to false claims from the individuals in a neighborhood where he had started a community garden. Marc Peoples had the police called on him dozens of times for allegations that he was stalking, vandalizing, and harassing the community. These calls came from the same three white women, over and over again. Once these allegations were taken to court (after Peoples had been arrested and forced to bond out for crimes he never committed) the judge ruled that the allegations were false after said women could not remember their stories and eventually admitted to exaggerating and fabricating stories because they deemed he did not belong. (Burch)
These examples are few compared to the hundreds that happen every year. In each scenario there are no crimes being committed, just implicit biases leading to 911 being treated as customer service line instead of an emergency assistance line as it was intended. It leads wasted time, resources, and eventually money for companies and cities when lawsuits are added to the equation. The individuals affected by these microaggressions are left feeling hurt, embarrassed, and betrayed after these encounters. They begin losing credibility, jobs, and wages due to individuals policing their whereabouts simply because they have a different shade of skin.
All of these situations could be avoided if we treated people who decide that they can police the lives of black people, by calling authorities on them, even when nothing is wrong, as the criminals in the situation. If an individual proceeds to disrupt the life of someone who is simply living while black, they should be charged with a hate crime because they allowed their implicit biases to waste city resources, cost companies money, and ruin lives of innocent individuals.
- “7 Racial Bias and Disparities in Proactive Policing.” National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018. .
- Beer, Todd. POLICE KILLING OF BLACKS: Data for 2015, 2016, 2017, and first half of 2018. 24 August 2018. 22 October 2018. .
- Burch, Audra D.S. How ‘Gardening While Black’ Almost Landed This Detroit Man in Jail. 26 October 2019. .
- Neel, Joe. Poll: Most Americans Think Their Own Group Faces Discrimination. 24 October 2017. 22 October 2018. .
- Ponds, Kenneth T. “Reclaiming Children and Youth.” Bloomington (2013): 22-24.
- Victor, Daniel. When White People Call the Police on Black People. 11 May 2018. 22 October 2018. .