The gratuitous fixation on rioting won't kill the elephant in the room.
In recent years, the world has seen far too many hashtags recorded into history to represent the Black people who lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement.
Even with the insurmountable list as a testament to the tragedies and the trauma, nothing is enough to bring the human value of Black lives to the forefront for change.
With the very recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the world is on the cusp of witnessing a critical, defining moment in the United States regarding racial injustice and systematic racism.
As Black Lives Matter activist Tamika Mallory recently stated, “Black people are dying in a state of emergency.”
The dramatised reports of destruction and cities in despair through the media are failing to call out the truth. This is a learned behavior from the history of America. It is a part of this country’s very historical beginnings.
The Boston Tea Party in December of 1773 led to the rally of the 13 original colonies to overthrow British rule. American colonists, frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” dumped 342 chests of tea, imported by the British East India Company into the harbor.
Similarly, the acts of rioting and looting are inherent to many major movements of change in America – the Women’s Suffrage, Civil Rights, and Stonewall Riots contributed to cultural and legal changes for women, minorities and gay Americans.
Violence against Black lives in America is historic, systemic and unchanged over centuries.
Expecting reaction to the most recent outrage to be without anger is impossible to fathom for Blacks in America who have routinely and systematically been treated as if their voices and their lives are not valued.
The world is witnessing now the amplified collective pleas of the Black community for justice for their lives. Black people have learned that there is no other way to be heard outside of civil unrest.
In trying to adapt methods to help validate, recognise and ensure the importance of Black lives, Black people and allies started taking on new manners of protest. Yet, for many there is no singular right way to protest when it comes to systematic racism.
In the United States, Black people and allies haven’t been allowed – without consequence – to take a knee, wear clothing representing the sentiments they are feeling, or take to the streets to march arm in arm to rage against racial injustices.
The root of why Black communities and allies have taken to the streets in civil unrest is because the pleas for justice have been delayed and ignored.
Ahmaud Arbery was killed on February 23, 2020 while out on a jog. His murderers weren’t arrested until May 2020.
Breonna Taylor was killed on March 13, 2020 while officers executed a search warrant on the wrong home. Her murderers still haven’t been arrested.
George Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020. In traumatic footage shared, the world witnessed a police officer press his knee into Floyd’s neck - while after he became motionless. Cries of “I can’t breathe” were familiar sentiments of the final moments of
Eric Garner was killed as three other officers looked on at their colleague restraining Floyd. One officer has been detained, while the other three remain free.
These are lives of vibrant, beautiful people whose families and friends will never get back.
The current protests over the murder of George Floyd has resulted in damage to property in many cities, including at Target, CVS Pharmacy, Macy’s and others. These large companies will rebuild and communities will stand together.
But first justice must be served.
This push for racial justice continues to be the fight America fails to resolve, even after more than 400 years and multiple cultural movements.
Those who focus on the destruction of property and goods take away from the underlying injustice and destruction of Black lives. It is hypocrisy.
Does anyone remember former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld characterising looting as 'transition' to freedom during the early days of the Iraq war?
The moralising over looting does not take into consideration how museums in the US have been supplied with much of what they have, nor the lives that were trampled to acquire those goods.
This uprising will not be stopped. Change must be inevitable and forthcoming.
Supportive words cannot be passed from lips to pacify the masses. Black lives matter and deserve respect to exist beyond a memorialised hashtag and photos shared on the internet.
The United States has reached a tipping point and must decide what it stands for now.
Around the world, people are witnessing if the famous preamble of the Declaration of Independence will finally stand true: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In the land of the free and home of the brave, now is the time for all men and women regardless of race in the US to be seen as equal with fundamental rights.
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