No Justice, No Peace: The Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020

This may be an opinion piece, but it is one that I write wholeheartedly believing that there is only one correct opinion — black lives matter. 

I won’t lie, it has been difficult trying to find the words to write this article. Words feel empty. I feel an immense amount of responsibility to use my platform to spread awareness about what is happening in America. While it is nerve-racking to write on such an important topic, silence is not an option. I have a voice and I am going to continue to use it to promote change and equality. 

If there are only two people reading this article today, that’s fine. If only those two people take my words to heart and enact change in their communities and lives, then this article is not just words on a page. I recognize that words and social media posts alone will not end the systemic racism that has pervaded our country for centuries. These options seem to be an easy way to deal with complicated and systematic issues, but I am not naive to the platform each of us have and the ability I hold to share words and causes that are important to me. If you disagree with me, that's fine. Please unfriend me, unfollow me, stop reading this article. 

That being said, I want to make my opinion incredibly clear: black lives matter.

I am not saying your life doesn't matter. Nobody has said that. The best analogy I have seen to explain why the “All Lives Matter” arguments are invalid has been through a Tik Tok (I can sense your eye roll, but stay with me). While this app is centered around entertainment, I came across a video that explained the BLM movement like this:

https://www.tiktok.com/@chris_wells_/video/6831986227894422789?lang=en

Another amazing post was from LuAnna O’Hair who wrote: “You know what? I am against looting and violence. I’m against riots. But, you know what else? I’ve never watched my son die on a video because his skin is white. So, guess what? I have no authority to say anything here… Do not tell me they don’t have the right to burn it all down. They have tried everything else. It always goes back to the way it was. Do not tell them how to grieve. How to cause change. You don’t have that right. I don’t have that right.”

For those of you who will continue to argue that riots are counterproductive and that they should be peacefully protesting, please look at Colin Kaepernick​. Colin Kaepernick​ was blacklisted from the NFL for peacefully advocating for the BLM Movement. And what about Martin Luther King Jr? He was assassinated for peacefully protesting. What about those looting the Target in Minneapolis? The CEO of Target released a statement on the riots that you can read here. He writes, “we commit to contributing to a city and community that will turn the pain we’re all experiencing into better days for everyone.” Targets can be replaced, human lives cannot. 

My goal in writing this article (and in life) is to be an ally. Mireille C. Harper wrote a thread on 10 steps to Non-Optical Allyship, with the goal of guiding non-POC like me on how to be an effective ally. She quotes Latham Thomas, as he describes optical allyship, saying: “allyship that only serves as the surface level to perform the “ally” it makes a statement but doesn’t go beneath the surface and is not aimed at breaking away from the systems of power that oppress.” You can find Mireille’s thread here

Above all else, we need to listen to the black community, and minority communities in general.

I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:

I can go birding (Christian Cooper). I can go jogging (Amaud Arbery). I can relax in the comfort of my own home (Bothem Sean and Atatiana Jefferson and Breonna Taylor). I can ask for help after being in a car crash (Jonathan Ferrell and Renisha McBride).I can have a cellphone (Stephon Clark). I can leave a party to get to safety (Jordan Edwards). I can play loud music (Jordan Davis). I can sell CDs (Alton Sterling). I can sleep (Aiyana Jones). I can walk from the corner store (Mike Brown). I can play cops and robbers (Tamir Rice). I can go to church (Charleston 9). I can walk home with Skittles (Trayvon Martin). I can hold a hair brush while leaving my bachelor party (Sean Bell). I can party on New Years (Oscar Grant). I can get a traffic ticket (Sandra Bland). I can lawfully carry a weapon (Philando Castile). I can break down on a public road with car problems (Corey Jones). I can shop at Walmart (John Crawford). I can have a disabled vehicle (Terrence Crutcher). I can read a book in my own car (Keith Scott). I can be a 10 year old old walking with our grandfather (Clifford Glover). I can decorate for a party (Claude Reese). I can ask a cop a question (Randy Evans). I can cash a check in peace (Yvonne Smallwood). I can take out my wallet (Amadou Diallo). I can run (Walter Scott). I can breathe (Eric Garner). I can live (Freddie Gray). I can be arrested without the fear of being murdered (George Floyd).

A system cannot fail those that it was not designed to protect. Recognize your privilege and use  it to enact broad systemic change. Realize that POC have been fighting against injustice for decades. Just because the inequality in America has recently come to your attention does not mean that it is any more prevalent than it was yesterday. It's not good enough to not be racist, we must be anti-racist. 

Take a minute to consider the Black experience today. Listen, act, and vote. 

Black lives matter.