"Not Being Racist Isn't Enough, You Have To Be Anti-Racist”: The Importance of The Black Lives Matter Movement

In the last few weeks, a series of protests began as a result of George Floyd's murder by a white police officer, in Minneapolis, USA. Because of that, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, shortened to BLM, gained a lot of strength, once again, in all social media and it is even more present in protesters signs all over the world. But, do you know what it means?

say their names black lives matter sign Photo by Frankie Cordoba from Unsplash In July 2013, a movement was created in the United States by a group of black activists that began with the intention of facing police violence against black community. The movement received the name Black Lives Matter and it was transformed into a global movement for the black population's right. The group activism became famous after their performances in many cases, such as Trayvon Martin's, Michael Brown's — both Trayvon and Michael were shot by white police officers — and Eric Gardner's, who was hold in a chokehold by police, before dying.

“The movement started 7 years ago. Before that, we've never had any kind of visibility in the media like we have now. Police brutality always existed, but no one talked about Ágatha Félix and João Pedro Mattos before. They were overlooked. Black Lives Matter was the rise of the black community. We are tired of being afraid, it’s time to stand up, defend ourselves, protest!”, says Manuela Calandula, Angolan and activist in the Brazilian's black movement.

Many artists and anonymous people began to join the movement, that spread very fast, but it wasn't restricted to the black population. Many caucasians stand for the BLM movement. Online and offline, they’re demanding a bigger proceeding from the state and other authorities to defend black lives and are facing the anti-racist fight along with the black people.

sign saying fight today for a better tomorrow Markus Spiske / Pexels “People have to understand that racism isn't a black thing. Racism was invented by white people. It's white people against black people, so it has to be solved between whites, you know? They are the ones that need to stop being racists and to use the society's structure to justify acts like this.”, Manuela adds.

The marks that slavery left around the world are crystal clear. In the United States, for example, white people are almost ten times richer than the black and the mortality rate in the black community is twice as big. This inequality spreads into other areas, when we analyze the differences between dwelling, education, health and unemployment the black population has always had the worst ratings in the country.

“A black person in an environment with a lot of white people gets coerced. He feels the violence, he feels the racism, but he is incapable of defending himself, because of the fear. That's why a non-racist white also has to show racist people that they can change! Someone who sees something like that happening and doesn't say anything is accepting and perpetuating the racism. Not being a racist is not enough. You have to be anti racist! It's enough! It's time to change, and the fight belongs to all of us!”, continues Manuela Calandula.

Protester holding sign that says Photo by Clay Banks from Unsplash As much as it has gained most of its strength in social media, there are still some attitudes that compromise the movement and obscure the movement's full performance.

“Put a black square on your Instagram doesn't help. It's much more helpful if you share real information about the movement, but people only do it to show off. They need to pay more attention to the true meaning of some things inside of the movement. They use the hashtag without knowing what it means, it's hypocrisy. The activism has to be present all the time, not only when protests explode”, says Silchya Rodrigues, president of the “Africásper” collective.

“I don’t think cyberactivism changes things. I believe that one of the only ways of making real change, to show the real power that we have, is through protests. Online, we don’t show any kind of power, we have to go to the streets”, concludes.

Young person in a shirt that says Photo by Clay Banks from Unsplash By bringing all of us around one of the most urgent causes of the century, Black Lives Matter brings hope for those who suffer with inequality and violence every single day. For more information about the movement and its history, access the Black Lives Matter website.

You can also donate and sign petitions to help.


This article was edited by Amanda Oestreich.

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