Nicole Bendon | Political Editor | Tuesday 26 July 2016 | GMT 15:40 | @Nicolebendon_x
In light of recent events in the US, I find it extremely important to discuss the prominence of Black Lives Matter at this moment in time. Clearly, police brutality towards black men and women in America has become somewhat of a controversial issue between “he was just doing his job as an officer of the law” and “this was a blatant and unjust attack on black people”. In my opinion, these arguments and controversy are ill-founded as it is obvious to me, despite not having ever received such treatment myself, that America is not “post-racial” and it is those of colour that suffer more than anybody.
Obviously, it has to be stated that this does not include every single white police officer in America. There are many officers who fight on a day-to-day basis to keep citizens safe, rather than unjustly pull them over on the highway for a broken taillight, which ends up in the victim being brutally handled and in fatal cases, murdered. And that is what it is: murder. Not “an unfortunate death” that the media so often paint the picture of, but murder simply due to the wrongful stereotypes that comes with the territory of being a black citizen.
As a whole, the statistics and facts surrounding these cases are overwhelmingly lopsided. In 2015 for example, the amount of unarmed black people that were killed by police was five times more than white people, amounting to 102 people that year. 102 lives. However, only ten of the 102 cases in 2015 resulted in the officer in question being charged with a crime and only two of them (the cases of Matthew Ajibade and Eric Harris) brought about convictions of the officers involved. Yet people – especially the police – still deny that racial hatred and stereotypes were a factor in these cases. It’s shocking how life can mean so little to those who have the authority to protect it.
What has become a very controversial topic over the last few weeks is the killing of five officers in Dallas, Texas, on 7th July 2016. This shooting occurred at the end of a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest against the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philander Castile in Minnesota, and resulted in a lot of hatred and difference of opinions. One opinion included that the killings of these police officers was being discussed and portrayed in the media far more than the hundreds of killings of black people in the US, asserting this idea of “white privilege.” Nobody sane enough could deny this is a prominent problem in America. But while I agree that the lives of these officers should be treated with as much respect as the lives of black citizens, I also completely believe in something Martin Luther King Jr once stated: “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Now of course, all lives matter. Not just white lives and not just black lives. However, people have begun to assume that protesting for Black Lives Matter means suggesting that black lives are more important than white lives. Ultimately, this is not the case and far from the aim of Black Lives Matter. What the protests mean is that black lives should matter in the eyes of the Law and in the eyes of every citizen as much as white lives seem to. What it means is that black people should not have to fear for their life every time they walk past a policeman or get pulled over by one. It means we should live in a world where race and colour do not define who we are and how we should be treated.
Although this matter does not directly affect me and I have never felt as though my colour has hindered my achievements or put me in danger before, it would be impossible to turn a blind eye just because I could. If everybody who could turn a blind eye did, then we would be plunged back into the fifties and sixties. I would like to think we have come a long way since then, but the fight is clearly not over and in no way can America be deemed as “post racial” with these issues circulating on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.
One day, I hope the colour of one’s skin does not affect anything they do in life and that peace becomes normality rather than hope. That’s a world that I would like to live in.