The Issue at Hand
The Black Lives Matter Movement is a lot of things; a lot of things, except pointless. While the name and purpose are self-explanatory, the Movement has shined high beams on the fact that systemic racism for People of Color in America is real and the American Dream narrative is a nightmare for many.
Systematic/systematic/institutionalized oppression/racism — all words that can be interchangeably used with each other — can be seen in our educational institutions, the various levels of government, and pushed through our society’s very strong connection to the media.
The takeoff of this movement was so quick that it almost seemed strategic. After Mike Brown’s murder in Ferguson, MO on August 9, 2014 citizens took to social media to share play-by-plays and commentary that lead to nationwide solidarity with this community. Within months we saw more stories of unarmed Black men and women rise to the surface in real time accompanied by protests and the call that Black lives matter, proof that this is deeper than isolated incidents.
What happened in Ferguson opened up a conversation for Black people and other people of color to share their experiences with racism that touched various capacities from micro-aggressions experienced in their day-to-day, to experiences on college campuses, to hiring practices, to the discrepancies in policing of different races.
And then the conversation expanded.
People that have been doing the work in disadvantaged communities understand the economic inequalities that these folks face and why, and as the middle class seems to be getting smaller while income equality rises, the Black Lives Matter Movement became more than addressing police brutality. America had to face it’s demons: we are not in a post-racial society and People of Color as a whole are still dealing with the aftermath of “White is Right” attitudes that founded this nation.
The first step in addressing a problem is admitting you have one. America still has not outright admitted there is a problem, but our nations leaders have no choice but to take note. Increased conversation in the media around what it feels like to be a Person of Color in America is effortlessly tying into political conversations with the 2016 Presidential Race right around the corner. It’s hard to say what the next five years, or even next year will look like for systematic oppression but I guarantee as long as the Black Lives Matter Movement continues to grow in size and refine in message and action, our baby steps toward justice will quickly turn into leaps and bounds to a greater America.
How You Can Join the Revolution
Systematic/systematic/institutionalized oppression/racism is a complicated topic, no doubt, which leaves changes in policy and attitudes of our economic and political leaders as the only clear solution.
To have a hand in changing how our country operates, you need to recognize the power of your voice and to abandon any fear or insecurity you may have about addressing our nations problems. Instead of an hour on social media, take 10 of those minutes to read and look into policy in your state or city that interests you enough to be vocal about. What is the state of People of Color where you live and what policies or people are keeping these conditions in place? How can it be improved?