Why I Take Part In The "Black Lives Matter" Movement
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Politics and Activism

Why I Take Part In The "Black Lives Matter" Movement

"Writing as writing. Writing as rioting. Writing as righting. On the best days, all three." - Teju Cole

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Why I Take Part In The "Black Lives Matter" Movement
BBC

On August 9th, 2014, an unarmed black teenager named Mike Brown was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson. Since then, hundreds of unarmed blacks have been shot and killed by police, only resulting in a small handful of officers who didn't even lose their jobs, let alone receive any convictions or real punishment. I am sure you are aware of the Black Lives Matter movement, as it has become a strangely controversial issue since the time of Mike Brown's murder. I say strange because I do not see how the exclamation of the worth of life can spark so much rebuttal and resentment, especially in the face of proven fatal prejudice within the justice system. On November 24th, 2014, I sat in my U District apartment, refreshing my web browser, waiting for the grand jury's announcement of the verdict of Darren Wilson.

Then, there it was. No indictment.

I, along with many, was outraged. I took to the streets of Seattle, which, with 170 other cities, had erupted into protest.

I walked for hours, mostly with my hands raised above my head, next to rappers Macklemore and Sol, to the chorus of "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." The protest remained unified and peaceful until some decided to continue on to the I-5 freeway onramp, and then up onto the freeway, thereby blocking traffic. I appreciated the spirit of it, so I followed a bit to see how it would pan out. I was wary of the presence of Anonymous, an anarchist group, and their inkling to lead things toward the trajectory of out-of-hand.


As suspected, the police did not appreciate the rebellious nature of the freeway blockage, and a large portion of the group was pepper-sprayed and deterred by percussion grenades. I was lucky enough to run away in time as soon as I saw the haze and people reacting to the spray. I heard later that there were rocks and fireworks being thrown at officers, which was disappointing, as that was not the feeling I gathered from the general public. Furthermore, it was against the wishes of Mike Brown's family, who asked for only peaceful upon the news from the grand jury.

Since then, there has been no widespread sign of progress. Unarmed black people are still seven times as likely to be shot by police than unarmed white people. I still fight with people about the merit of the movement itself and am increasingly angry with the small-mindedness of "All Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter" as rebuttals. I find often that people feel that their voice alone does not matter, or they do not feel that it is necessary for the movement, as they are not victimized. To confront this ideology of sloughing duty on to others, I will quote South African activist Desmond Tutu:

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
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