Voices: Black lives must matter before all lives can matter

Black lives matter
Photo credit: BlackLivesMatter.com

When it comes to racial discrimination, everyone needs to take a stance.

By Ananya Swaminathan

As an Indian American, I have spent time researching the ongoing Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and what is happening around me. Why do I care? I care because what is currently happening is a clear breach of human rights.

As a person of color living in America, my family and I have experienced name-calling and even workers ignoring or refusing to serve us. But our experience is nothing compared with what the black community has gone through.

First and foremost, people need to understand protestors are not typically rioters. When police were questioned, most agreed that protesters were largely peaceful and the looters were not associated with the protests.

When riots and looting broke out widely in America, it received huge but largely negative news coverage with some channels selectively editing clips to portray the protestors in the wrong light.

Now that the riots have subsided giving way to largely peaceful protests, media coverage has also decreased substantially.

The question is why? I honestly don’t have a clear answer, but from how I see it, some media companies care more about TRPs than positive change in society and need for law enforcement reforms.

We also seem to be overlooking the fact that police brutality has been hitting African Americans for generations.

People are bound to get sick and tired of being oppressed for no fault of theirs, especially when some people still refuse to acknowledge that blacks are treated differently by both law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Besides police brutality, data portray that on average, black individuals spend more time in jail compared to whites committing the same crime.

RELATED: Voices: BLM movement targets systemic racism in the US (September 1, 2020)

The roots of this issue start with basic education. As we know, schools in America were legally segregated up until 1954 when the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation.

Although schools can no longer turn away students for their skin color, separation is still visible.

“A black child faces a very high probability of ending up in a school where a majority of her peers are both poor and students of color,” according to a study by the Economy Policy Institute. “While less than one in 10 white students (8.4%) attend high-poverty schools with a high share of students of color.”

American public schools are funded by property taxpayers. When someone lives in a cheaper area the property tax drops, meaning the amount going to their school or district funding also dips dramatically.

With poor education and poverty, these students do not stand the same chance, regardless of how hard they work.

A recent article by Ravi Shanker Kapoor complained about how the BLM movement is portraying all black people to be victims while making white people self-centered villains.

RELATED: Voices: Why do Americans tolerate racism? (August 31, 2020)

He cited a white woman as saying that people were making her feel guilty about ‘white privilege’, whereas BLM simply aims to make white individuals understand and acknowledge their privilege.

Many caucasian individuals are using their platforms, no matter their size, to spread factual awareness about BLM. The only self-centered individuals in my eyes are people who choose to ignore the movement and truly understand what it stands for.

The Black Lives Matter Movement carries so much further than just police brutality. A popular saying is “what police do to black men, doctors do to black women”.

The first problem is the lack of black individuals in the field, according to American health-oriented news website Stat. “Only 3%  of the medical field is black women, while black men make up close to 2%, their voices go unheard.”

As Erika Stallings put it in The Oprah Magazine, “You’re denied pain meds. You’re handled brusquely. Staff openly question your ability to pay.”

Black women are also most likely to be denied or their waiting times extended in situations like needing a kidney transplant. Now why is this so when black women require the most help?

As The Oprah Magazine notes, past events of racism, “America’s version of apartheid, appears to have left its mark on a cellular level.”

“Black women born before 1965 in Jim Crow states are to this day more likely than those born at the same time in other states to have estrogen-receptor negative breast tumors, which are more aggressive and less responsive to traditional chemotherapy.”

The oppression and mistreatment Black individuals have faced over so many generations has left traces of genetic health conditions in many children, yet some people choose to ignore generations of brutality and try to pass it off as an “accident”.

The fact is the American constitution was never written for people of color it was crafted and made by white males.

The United States was never a place where black individuals were free. First it was by force, moving them to an unknown land and making them work for men they had never seen before.

Now it is by fear. A mother can not let her children out without a worry somewhere in the back of her head that something may happen. Kids in black homes learn to talk to cops and how to act calmly no matter how rough the situation.

Don’t kids deserve to be free to live without fear and injustice for something they cannot control?

America does have its positives. I’m not denying that, but when it comes to something such as racial discrimination everyone needs to take a stance.

These are not repetitive cases of “misjudgment.” They are a violation of human rights, plain and simple.

(Ananya Swaminathan is a student of Metea Valley High School, Naperville, Illinois.)

ALSO READ:

What do I have to do with Black Lives Matter? (June 20, 2020)

A message to the Southeast Asian community regarding the Black Lives Matter movement (June 2, 2020)

Black Lives Matter: Are Indian Americans guilty of silence? (June 10, 2020)

Four-in-ten Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement: Pew Research survey (July 8, 2016)

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