When Will They Matter? – Part 1
Because of the events and sun media of yesteryear, black people have been brandished with unfair stereotypes for a very long time. Drug dealing, drug abusing, lazy, criminal usually fits the bill among the many other derogatory statements that tarnish the entire race. Criminal is a huge one, and one that was furthered by the drug crises. 1 in 15 men incarcerated are black, compared to 1 in every 106 white males. This divide is horrific and more importantly systematic, as the behind bars seems to be the place many Americans believed better suited black folk. In Ava Duvernay’s gut punching and revealing documentary 13th, she examines a loophole in American legislation which has allowed people of colour to be packed into prisons by the millions. African-Americans have been enslaved, segregated, left to wallow in poverty and as if that didn’t impact them enough, now they are locked up on mass and sent far away from society. In recent times another theme arose that stood to terrify those still able to keep their heads up – unjustified killings.
A seemingly non-stop stream of cases backed up by audio and video content began pouring in over the last 24 months. Police officers harassing and killing people of colour for no apparent reason. Unarmed, inoffensive and complying members of the public are engaged in encounters with these officers and their lives are taken away for no reason. All while bystanders or in some unfortunate cases family members have to witness the entire ordeal. These videos just kept coming in and more names were added to the list, while combating the racially motivated killings seemed far from the government’s priority list. In response the Black lives matter movement begun to take shape on social media and then took to the streets. But even here at this juncture, in a time when the world is apparently far more open minded, and freedom of speech is free to exhibit, still there is resistance.
Somewhere along the line, the name of the campaign became a target for those who seemed to oppose the ideology. “So white lives don’t matter?” would be a common reaction to this slogan, which of course is not what it says. Inhumane treatment of an entire race has simply changed its face from decade to decade, and now that the ancestors of those who were flogged and hung have stepped out to say we are people too and we matter – that is too far. In his brutal and honest Stand up, comedian Michael Che explains how other groups have the liberty of fighting for equal rights, where as Black people are being penalised for asking simply to matter.
Is it any wonder that African-Americans today still feel oppressed by their country and shunned by their countrymen? We like to think that we are so advanced and that human rights issues are a thing of the past, but are they? If the entire country can not stand hand in hand behind a banner and acknowledge that yes “Black Lives Matter”, then how far have we really come? A great man once said, “I have a dream.”, today we still don’t know when this prophecy will ever truly take shape.