Since Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012 there seems to be a rise of violence against black bodies in America. In 2014 there was an overwhelming amount of cases of police brutality and police caused murders against black people. From Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson, the choking murder of Eric Garner in New York, to the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, it has become apparent that black bodies and black lives are under attack. Beyond that it seems as though that neither the media nor the justice system is on the side of black people in the states. Courts have not been holding these murderers accountable for their crimes; many of these police officers are simply getting away with a slap on the wrist. The media has been labeling the victims as thugs and thief’s as if to say they are deserving of these crimes against them, and portraying their murderers in positive lights, attempting to minimalize their crimes. It seems as if this trend has followed us into 2015. In January alone there were already more then 50 police caused murders across the United States. (Fairbanks)
Along with murder there also seems to be a rise in police brutality especially during arrest. Almost everyday a video will arise on the web of of a black person being arrested and officers using unneeded force. The most recent of these cases was against student, Martese Johnson at the University of Virginia.
Martese Johnson, who is an honors student and star athlete at his university, went out for a night of drinking last month with his friends. While attempting to get into a bar he was turned away and the police were called. The police accused him of using a fake ID and preceded to arrest him, they exerted unneeded force upon him. Martese constantly tried to explain his innocence but the cops would not listen. The arresting police officers even went as far as shackling his feet. (Vultaggio) To a black person this is beyond degrading, given our history of slavery. His life should be respected. Whether or not he is a honour student or a star athlete, or even whether or not his ID was fake or real, Martese should have never experienced that much aggression nor brutality from the police, who are supposed to serve and protect us.
As stated before Martese Johnson’s case is just one of many occurring across the United States. Many Black people not only in America but also across the world have banned together to fight for equal rights for black people and to change the way in which the black community communicates with each other and how others view it. For many the only positive thing to come out of these crimes was the creation of #blacklivesmater. This statement has turned into a chant, then a trend, and now a community organization that has demands and goals it wants to achieve. (Blacklivesmatter.com) The group, much like the NAACP serves as a voice for the victims and families of the victims. They are specifically associated with violence directed toward black people and are all encompassing, serving both black men and women, black transgender people, black gay and lesbians, etc. (Blacklivesmatter.com) This is an important fact that adds to their message that every single black life matters.
The BlackLivesMatter movement also has done a great job of destroying anti-blackness mainly within the black community. Many people have found a greater sense of pride in who they are after realizing that their life is one that matters. They also have worked towards ending this belief in black respectability politics. Respectability politics is this idea that black people have to dress, talk and act a certain way in order to be respected in society, which of course is completely false. This is a delusional way of thinking that is very harmful and negative. For young people you are silencing their creativity and voice. Also telling them that their life only matters as long as they live up to this specific guideline. It’s very much racist and prejudicial.
Martese, Mike, Eric, and Tamir, are only a few of the countless names of black people who have been murdered or physically assaulted by police. These offences have shown a pattern of abuse and blatant disrespect toward the black community. These events are things that could have broken this community but instead have made it stronger. The organization BlackLivesMatter have done a lot to perpetuate a proud black image, as well as demand justice for these people who continue to go unpunished. It’s hard to understand how these issues are still so apparent in 2015. They shouldn’t be, there shouldn’t be such a clear divide in a society that claims to have equality.
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