Don’t make supporting Black Lives Matter performative

Cassia Tippett, Bilingual Editor

I am not truly educated. I listen to my peers discussing significant matters that I have trouble commenting on. I haven’t even touched the surface of fundamental political or social justice, let alone cracked through it. I’m reluctant to state and loudly proclaim my own opinion because I want to be on the right side. Not the Trump side, not the sexist side, not the racist side, not the “ist” side. Although I have been deemed racist by “upholding systemic racism.” 

I can’t keep cowering down and letting people fight the battles around me. I know I blame my phone for distracting me when I should be blaming myself in all actuality. I choose the side that Gen Z will agree upon, taking a more in-depth look into my moral compass and changing my views to fit. I can’t keep letting people choose what’s right and wrong for me. The toxicity that Gen Z spreads can be suffocating, yet so alluring. It’s lonely. As 2020 nears, I will never honestly acknowledge – me, who passes off as “white” in today’s society – how terrifying it is to be Black in America. 

Rayshard Brooks, Tamir Rice, Daniel Prude, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clark, Breonna Taylor, Brandon Bernard, George Floyd and countless more. The names listed, from ages 12 to 60, have been affected by police brutality and racially-motivated violence. Now, people will be seeing them with animosity instead of the loving, selfless people their loved ones saw. The desolation and rage from these unfair deaths left an impression on the world.

 We like to think that racism will cease existing, but systemic discrimination in policing and some social institutions is still oppressing and disproportionately killing African Americans.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed innocent protestors, was let out of jail this month after being in custody since Oct. 30th. His lawyers made the claim, he was acting in “self defense.” People need to stop playing victim, and take accountability for their actions. Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove shot Breonna Taylor while sleeping in her own home and faced few to no charges. The difference between these white men committing hate crimes and African-American men is their skin pigmentation. Funny how we’re in the 21st century yet we’re still judging people based on their skin color. The racial disparities perpetuated in the justice system prove that it is flawed. Sentences imposed on African Americans in the federal system are 20 percent longer than those given to white males. They face greater odds of incarceration in some jurisdictions. 

Tamir Rice was only 12 years old when he was brutally shot and killed in front of his sister for playing with a toy gun. He was playing with a water gun at a park when Officer Timothy Loehmann shot him. The other police officers then tackled his 14-year-old sister, Tajai, and threw her into the back of a police car. It took four minutes for Rice to receive first aid, and he died on the way to the hospital. 

Tanisha Anderson’s family called 911 because Tanisha had bipolar disorder and was restless and trying to leave the house. Her family warned the 911 operator that she was bipolar, and officers Scott Aldridge and Bryan Myers convinced Anderson to return to a mental health facility. The lack of knowledge that some police officers have with psychological disorders is concerning, considering all the people they have to face daily. Leading up to her death, her family said she was slammed into the ground and left there for 21 minutes, while the two officers said she “fell to the ground.” 

These racial injustices struck a chord with the Black community, and an organization was formed. Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer was acquitted. BLM is a global organization that’s purpose is to eradicate white supremacy and build on global power to intervene in unfair, racially-biased deaths. 

The Central Park Five:  Korey Wise, 16, Kevin Richardson, 15, Raymond Santana, 14, Yusef Salaam, 15 and Antron Mccray, 15; these five young teenagers wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting and raping a woman. They were interrogated by the police, despite being under 17, without a legal guardian present. They were only allowed to leave once they confessed to a crime they didn’t commit. They were detained at the police station for hours on end. They were deprived of food and water and weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom. There was no evidence that the boys committed the crime. The police officers took advantage of them and used their weaknesses against them. All five boys were arrested and labeled level 3 sex offenders and served 13 years in prison. People saw them with disgust. Korey Wise went straight to prison, where he was beaten and abused, while the others went to juvenile detention.

Pertaining the issue, people from their community protested everyday to show how unfair and legally wrong this was, while others didn’t truly mean it.   

Performative activism, aka slacktivism, means showing no or little support. On #Blackouttuesday, people posted black screens to bring attention to racial inequality and to inform people about how to sign petitions and call or text numbers to show support, which did the opposite. The black picture blocked Black creators from expressing their opinions on everyday life being Black. I noticed people posting and then, after a couple of days when it wasn’t relevant to them anymore, they took it down. Just because it isn’t plastered on every social media site anymore doesn’t make it less of an issue. Doing this to increase your social platform doesn’t help anyone. 

There are multiple ways to help; support Black-owned businesses, sign petitions, donate to charities, and call/text numbers. The racial injustices that African Americans face aren’t your stepping stone to show everyone how woke a person you are.