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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

One of the biggest shocks during the coronavirus and the resulting quarantine has been the unrelenting violence that is still present during the quarantine and the COVID-19 pandemic in Puerto Rico, the US, and the rest of the world. It’s a clear indication that governments are not looking to preserve the safety and overall well-being of the people. The system is failing, and it has been warped from the very beginning. The system was made to destroy the people within it. Many want us to believe that we live in a post-racial society and that systemic racism is no longer a thing, but that is, unfortunately, not the case.

There are so many examples of systemic racism and discrimination, whether it’s “racial disparity in misdemeanor arrest rates,”disproportionately higher imprisonment rates of African Americans for drug charges,” or “higher chances of black drivers being searched at traffic stops.” For some, it might be baffling how people choose to ignore it, even though it’s happening all around the world. Both in real life and social media, it’s common for conversations surrounding this issue to end up with marginalized people being told to “let it go.” However, many history experts and professionals in the fields of social sciences and political science have underlined the fact that it is crucial to know our history so that we do not wind up making the same mistakes ever again.



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But now, people have had enough. They’re raising their voice and taking to the streets, not just in the US, but worldwide.

Society is at a point where marginalized communities are constantly reliving violence on behalf of the state: systemically and directly. The murder of George Floyd sparked indignation. It catalyzed a movement that has already been actively fighting against the violence of police brutality and systemic racism. With cases like Breonna Taylor, where a police officer shot her inside her own home, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Ahmaud Arbery, among others whose names deserve to be remembered, we witness how the law keeps failing. Now, protests are taking place with a drastically pressing urgency.



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Innocent citizens dying at the hands of the police is a sad, recurring nightmare that minorities have had to face. Black people and other marginalized groups have been racially profiled and continually targeted by police since the very beginning of society itself. There is a continual outcry for this to stop. It is also important to highlight that “the implicit bias and outright racism is embedded in the way that policing is done in the US. When you look at the history behind it, it was founded as a slave patrol,” said Opal Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.

As protests began taking place, goers were met with even more police violence. What started as peaceful protests ended up escalating to all-out riots. Videos and photos shot and circulated social media show how the police have been escalating situations and inciting riots. In many of these videos, the police have fired rubber bullets directly against peaceful protesters, thrown gas canisters, and pepper-sprayed civilians who were of no threat. They’ve even deployed tear gas and stun grenades to scatter protesters. These actions have angered many and shown how police officers are not adequately trained to de-escalate situations, which can lead them to use unnecessary force willingly. These actions have caused widespread anger and are being condemned worldwide because protests that are precisely against police brutality are being met with police brutality. One of the main demands that stem from these protests is to defund the police, reform the system, and for officers to be held accountable for their actions.

Activist groups are under fire, as they’re being discredited by President Donald Trump. He has shown his disagreement and actively criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, protesters around the country, and even went as far as saying, through his Twitter account no less, that he would push to have Antifa categorized as a “terrorist group”, accusing them of being responsible for the violence that has been caused by riots. It’s important to note that Antifa is defined as “a political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology.” These statements, coupled with the threats and orders Trump has given to control the protests and riots, has made many accuse him of being a “would-be authoritarian leader.” He even threatened to deploy federal troops against the protest that broke out in Washington, DC during his speech. Trump said that he would be willing to deploy “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers” around different cities to silence and disband the protests, adding that he would be enforcing curfew and would punish any who did not comply.

In the case of Puerto Rico, racial politics are complicated due to the mythos that exists behind our cultural and racial mix. The protests in the US against racism has sparked debates on the island throughout social media, with people going as far as arguing that racism in this island doesn’t exist. Though racism and colorism do exist on the island, they are “systematically made invisible.” These issues, however, have been consistently denied by the government for years. Racism often manifests itself in casual conversations and with micro-aggressions, like the common saying “mejorar la raza.” This expression, “bettering the race,” refers to bringing home a lighter-skinned or white-passing person so that the resulting children are likely to be white-passing themselves. These micro-aggressions have been so normalized that some don’t even see how wrong they are and how this behavior can hurt others and lead to more racist and dangerous actions.



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In many cases, racism on the island is even more blatant. In  2017, a young eleven-year-old Puerto Rican black girl named Alma Yadira Cruz went through a legal process after she had to defend herself from bullying and racist comments from her classmates. She ended up being punished for defending herself and even ended up in court, even though she’s a minor. People are constantly discriminated against based on the color of their skin. They suffer bullying, racial profiling, and cases of police brutality and hate crimes. We don’t see the statistics because the system refuses to recognize that this is a real problem. Many collectives and groups have raised their voices and demanded that the government address that there is a problem and that Puerto Rico is no exception. Groups like the anti-racism organization Colectivo Ilé have been very vocal on the subject, as well as other socially conscious organizations and individuals that are called to show their support.

These cases show we cannot keep denying that racism is still alive and thriving even with the crisis brought on by the pandemic. Right now, there’s a real divide in terms of public opinion, and there’s quite a lot of debate going on in social media, along with overwhelming solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Since its conception, this group has had the mission of “fighting and advocating to stop a war on black lives.” Having these conversations has always been essential, and it is becoming more and more urgent. It’s the year 2020, and we’re still having to see these types of horrible things happen with no repercussions. It’s time to question the system, the way it has been built and designed, and how it continues to step on the rights and lives of marginalized communities. Because without justice, there can be no peace.



A 22-year old writer and Comparative Literature student with a Certification in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Passionate about poetry, storytelling, languages, translation, editing, art, pop culture, cinema, theater, and social justice. Writing has always been her passion and she wants to use her words to effect change, to contribute something meaningful; focusing on topics of social justice such as feminism and activism to shed light on vulnerable commmunities and amplify the voices of those who are often ignored.