It’s likely that you will remember the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag which was floating around the internet last year. It was sort of hard to miss and for good reason because it’s a campaign that has a really important message.
A few weeks ago I spotted a documentary of the same name on iTunes and decided that it was a much watch. I was completely right and if you haven’t watched it already then I genuinely suggest that you do.
It could just change the way that you view things.
The documentary offers an eye opening introduction to the world we live in, the politics of the United States and the institutional racism that is potentially as potent as it ever has been. It makes you angry, it makes you want to cry but more than anything it makes you want to be a part of the movement, to help fight for the change.
It’s Wednesday so that means it’s time to look at what I’ve learnt and this week this is what I learnt from the #BlackLivesMatter documentary.
Progress has stalled // The civil rights movement of the sixties was an essential part of the equality movement and undoubtedly achieved a lot of good during it’s time of importance. Yet over the last thirty years it seems as if progress has stalled and that’s despite having Obama as president. There’s a really appropriate quote form the documentary in which one of the activist comments that “we are still fighting for freedom, every now and then it looks like we get there.” It’s easy to stick to the status quo, to get used to the way things are because change and fighting for change is hard. Yet when you’re faced with such violent death and tragedy at every corner it becomes impossible to ignore. This campaign has already started to make a difference and eventual it bring about the change.
It’s all about social media // The key difference between this campaign and the campaign which was led by Martin Luther is that this campaign has no direct leader. Instead it has an important story to tell, a cleverly worded message and a social media presence which is as an unprecedented tool.
It’s about more than prosecutions (but that is a part of it too) // In April 2015 Freddie Grey (a 25 year old man from Baltimore) was arrested for possessing what the police alleged was an illegal switchblade. While being put in the police van a video was recorded during which you can clearly see that Grey is injured and in serious pain, as he begs the officers for help. While being transported in the police van Grey fell in to a coma and several days later he died from spinal injuries. One month later in May 2015 Boston prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, announced that six police officers were to be prosecuted for their role in his death. This decision was a massive surprise and is an essential part of the story but it’s not the whole story because the situation is bigger than that. Sure, the prosecution made a big step in the right direction – the acknowledgement that a life is a life and that taking that life is wrong was an important one. Yet the bigger picture is the corrupt policing system and the few chances that exist for black youths in America. However when you cause one thing to happen that causes ripples and eventually those ripples can force change.
One in three black men will go to prison during their lifetime in the United States // The report that stated this goes in to much greater detail, adding that – “Racial minorities are more likely than white Americans to be arrested. Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences.” The report argues that the reasons for this are complex but is in part to blame on the discrepancy in policy activity. It goes on to state that police arrested black youth’s for drug crimes at more than twice the rate of white youth between 1980 and 2010. However the report goes even further citing that black Americans are for more likely to live in poverty than other racial counterparts. It paints a really bleak picture of the illusion of “equality’ in the sates.
I’m sure you’ll agree that this situation is pretty dyer, that things really do have to change and that little by little we can all help to bring that about.
What are your thoughts?