#DearCommunity from Ronvel Sharper
The Plight of African Americans – The Importance of Social Justice
It can go without saying that our society is not perfect– far from it in fact! There are social issues left and right that go unnoticed, even normalized! One such issue can be said about the status of African Americans. Ever since the Transatlantic Slave trade during the 16th century, African Americans have been struggling to make a living in their new home– the 13 colonies that would go on to be the United States of America. Through centuries of death and misery, and with organizations such as the NAACP, Black Panther Party, among others, much progress has been made in terms of the legalized segregation that has been put in place. However, the many cases of segregation by tradition and disparity of wealth in many colored communities is still undeniable– in other words, overt abuses by colored people is what has been outlawed. The only difference here are the racist institutions, they now work behind the scenes to keep people down and with the recent filming of murders of African Americans, more and more people are beginning to understand that the society we live in practically “rewards” people for killing African Americans in the sense that you can kill without any repercussions whatsoever.
Back in 2012, the shooting of Trayvon Martin caused an uproar with the acquittal of the shooter, Neighborhood Watch George Zimmerman. Zimmerman practically got away with murder when the police dispatcher told Zimmerman NOT to engage the 17-year-old, so it is easy to imagine why so many people were outraged. The thing is, Martin’s death is not the only death that people would be angry about, as many more would perish later on. Two years later, 13-year-old Tamir Rice would be the next one to be shot, this time by a police officer. These killings would be the birth of a new organization: Black Lives Matter. (https://blacklivesmatter.com/)
Black Lives Matter is a non-profit destined to help those who would otherwise have no say whatsoever, against the people in power who would much rather spend their time doing something else– like spending countless amounts of funds on military-grade equipment made specially to kill! Black Lives Matter utilizes civil disobedience much like the Civil Rights Movement did 60 years ago. They advocate for social reform, an eradication to Police Brutality, and an anti-racist society.
That’s cool, but How can I help?
There are actually plenty of ways to help, both subtle and overt! The first step is to educate yourself. It may be morbid, but it is recommended to look into the cases of Trayvon Martin, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, George Floyd, Eric Garner, etc. Cases like those are the reasons why Black Lives Matter even exists to this day. Another thing to look into are cases of US historical oppression, these incidents can give you an even stronger idea of what African Americans have suffered through for centuries now. Examples include the Red Summer of 1919, Tulsa Massacre, Tuskegee Experiments, etc. Again it is very morbid, but this is American history regardless, maybe you’ll find yourself really enjoying knowing more about the history of the good ol’ US of A?
Another way of supporting African Americans during this trying time is to look into charitable organizations that fight racism, and if you would like, support them. Even a dollar can go a long way in this battle. Here is an article that gives you a list of organizations that support the fight against racism and other social justice issues as well if you’d like to learn more!
Sharing the info you learn from your research can help spread the word and help the movement overall. Helping others understand why Black Lives Matter in the first place may feel like a small thing, but it truly helps to know that there are more and more people understanding why police brutality and racial violence have no place in our society.
Of course you are free to do what you like. But just know that just by researching, you are doing a great service not just for yourself, but also for many others out there. History has a profound effect on many of us, and knowing about it helps decrease the chance of us as a species repeating a mistake we did in the past.
#Dear Community is an initiative by SRA to spread awareness about social justice issues, particularly related to the Black Lives Matter movement. This student-voiced series will consist of articles, videos, and other forms of media that our students want to share regarding their personal experiences, why the movement matters to them, and their journeys of growing through unlearning/learning/re-