Since the end of slavery, the Black community has fought for equal treatment and representation over all aspects of life. In 1909, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was formed “in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country… [It] is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation,” (NAACP). Even after gaining the right for equal protection under the law and all male suffrage with the 14th and 15th Amendments, there was still discrimination and violence in the streets of America. The Civil Rights Movement started with the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case of 1954. It consisted of five separate cases which concerned “the issue of segregation in public schools,” (NAACP). These cases were the beginning of a long battle for equality; after them, many protests took place. Some of the peaceful protests included marches and “sit-ins” on restaurants. These were led by many powerful people, the most famous being Martin Luther King Jr. His words are still an inspiration today. These efforts caused the “Civil Rights Act of 1964” and the “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” (Kenneth Janken, National Humanities Center).
Today, equal treatment is still being fought for. The Black Lives Matter movement has sparked a lot of conversation about equality and justice still needed for the Black community. In 2013, the movement started with the death of Trayvon Martin and the “acquittal of [his] murderer, George Zimmerman,” (Black Lives Matter). This movement started the fight against police brutality and called people to action in order for justice to be served.
May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was murdered by Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao (Evan Hill, New York Times). George Floyd was killed by Chauvin’s knee being pressed on his neck causing him to go unconscious. He later went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance. Following Floyd’s death, many other people of color were killed due to police brutality.
His murder ignited something in the American people, whether that be good or bad.
Angry and hurt Americans took to the streets demanding justice be seen for the deaths of so many Black Americans due to the violence of the police force. Opposing voices to this movement claimed that the riots are uncalled for. Fox News referred to the protestors as “criminals. BLM is their cult,” (Rob Smith, Fox News).
There is nothing criminal about demanding justice. A common theme seen in the responses to these protests show that right-wing people find the anger unjustifiable. Left-wing and moderate individuals find the protests to be a constitutional right. As a white woman, I cannot speak for the anger of the Black community; it is not my place. However, I can speak for the unjust violence against other Americans. There is no excuse for what the Black community has been through. Some may appear to have it easier than others, but there will always be microagressions. There will always be racism. No white person can understand that. There is an immense amount of privilege that comes with being white.
I ask anyone reading this to please understand the responsibility that comes with privilege. I encourage my readers to educate themselves on the hardships faced by people of color, any color. Learn about the people who lost their lives to police brutality. Continue to fight for justice. There is beauty in understanding; there is beauty in support.
SAY THEIR NAMES.
Interview with Morgan Rose and her experience as a Black woman:
Black Lives Matter. “Herstory.” Black Lives Matter, 7 Sept. 2019, blacklivesmatter.com/herstory/.
Chughtai, Alia. “Know Their Names: Black People Killed by the Police in the US.” Al Jazeera Interactives, Al Jazeera, 20 Sept. 2020, interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2020/know-their-names/index.html.
Hill, Evan, et al. “How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 June 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/us/george-floyd-investigation.html.
Janken, Kenneth R. “The Civil Rights Movement: 1919-1960s.” Freedom’s Story, TeacherServe©. National Humanities Center. 8 December, 2020. http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/freedom/1917beyond/essays/crm.htm
NAACP. Nation's Premier Civil Rights Organization. 19 Nov. 2020, naacp.org/nations-premier-civil-rights-organization/.
Smith, Rob. “Rob Smith: Black Lives Matter Doesn't Really Care about Black Lives Lost Unless Group Can Blame Police.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 20 Oct. 2020, www.foxnews.com/opinion/black-lives-matter-protests-rob-smith.