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Black by Popular Demand

"We deserve to feel like we matter."

If anyone wants to see a case study of puerile hypocrisy, centuries worth of coddling, and blatant ignorance, check your local listings for episodes of white privilege, not the Black Lives Matter movement.

Recently, it has come to my awareness that there are people who believe we’re all the same. I hate to be the one to break the news, but we are not. Diversity is a myth when privilege exists. If I shoot up a church, I’m getting thrown in a hearse, not a ride to Burger King like Dylann Roof, the racist, mass shooter, and terrorist, who massacred nine innocent people in a Charleston church simply because they were black.

If Michael Brown’s case was too elaborate to comprehend, why don’t we look to other injustices that the Black Lives Matter protest signifies. Eric Garner, a man who sold loose cigarettes on the streets of Staten Island, like many teenagers do, was choked to death within a mere forty-five seconds by means of a police tactic that was banned decades ago. Sandra Bland, who was pulled over for a traffic ticket, ended up dead in her jail cell hours upon her arrest. As the story told, it was suicide by suffocation from a trash bag, but as policy states, Waller County Jail is not permitted to have objects in inmate’s cell that are loosely detachable. It is simple: if it’s in the cell, it cannot be detached. So how did Sandra Bland pick up a nonexistent trash bag and suffocate herself? Sandra Bland had no capacity to commit suicide and yet her death is swept under the rug because, to the majority, she’s black and disposable.

And if situational injustices aren’t enough, for those who can’t see past their privilege and need statistics to tell them how to think, let’s talk numbers. One in three black men may expect to go to prison in his lifetime and the number of black women incarcerated has increased by 800% in the last three decades, even though black women have been misrepresented across the catalog of reports of crimes in the U.S. Black felons committing crimes have received longer sentences compared to white felons. And despite the fact that people of color make up only 30% of the United States’ population, they account for 60% of those incarcerated. So there, there are the supporting facts (Credits to American Progress for these statistics that prove yes, black people are disadvantaged and yes, white people hold a decent amount of privilege in the justice system).

And for those who remain blinded by privilege, answer this, when was the last time an unarmed white person was killed by an officer and did not receive justice? I’ll wait. According to the NYPD, it has been forty-five years since an unarmed white person has been shot. When was the last time a white person was called a thug? I’ll wait. The answer is never, because it’s common knowledge that white people can’t be thugs—they’re just deemed mentally unstable. How can one completely ignore the fact that slavery was abolished 150 years ago and yet black people are still economically and politically enslaved? Think about it. Has anyone ever walked into a job interview and thought, “Man I sure wish I was black?” No, because what are the advantages of being black? I’ll wait. The answer is nonexistent. If you’re black, the only thing promised is racial profiling, incarceration for something you most likely did not do, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and being classified a thug by a majority of our communities.

So why is it that because they’re black we have to ask, do they even matter? How do you expect us to break the chains that history has bound us to if you silence our cries to matter?

The fact that the movement is even in question attests to the reality that black people are at a disadvantage. We need this movement, we’re not overreacting. We’re telling you, despite whatever history books told you, our history and our value go deeper than slavery. We are a group that has overcome every conflict that has been thrown our way by the very institutions that promise life, liberty, and freedom. We deserve to feel like we matter.

Let’s be clear. Black Lives Matter is not an attempt to reach any upper hand in this unfortunate internalized race war or to suddenly advance in the hierarchy of our communities. It’s not to be viewed as being more significant than any other race. It is not to provoke violence and to promote hate towards any other race whatsoever. It’s a movement. It is to be heard not through one ear out the next, but rather through the hopes that you put your privilege aside and acknowledge that black people are dying at the masses and the majority of American institutions remain quiet. Do we not matter?

We matter and when kids on college campuses are told to not come to class because hate crimes may be ensued and that the KKK is on campus, they should be heard and not told they’re overreacting. The demographic that is victimized should always be prioritized, not the latter.  

Rather than basking in the fact that we’ll never be equal and telling us to stop overreacting, do your research and tell the world that indeed, black lives matter.

Hanane Mohamed (275)
Staff Writer

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