For centuries, we have had the privilege of living with all different kinds of people from all different walks of life. However, some people still fail to appreciate all that we have gained from those around us, particularly those who are different from us. If we took a step back and looked at all that we do (and should do) for each other as a species, we would realize how much every contribution matters in our society and appreciate the strides that they have made and continue to make—video games, 3-D graphics, peanut butter, jazz.
What I am trying to say is that, yes, black lives matter.
As of Friday, news has spread of a young black firefighter in North Tonawanda, New York having lost his house due to a hate crime at the hands of one of his colleagues. Kenneth Walker, 28, lost his house and two pet cats due to arson after receiving a racially charged letter from an unidentified member of the community. 39-year-old Matthew Jurado, a former colleague of Walker's, had admitted to burning the house down, though it is still unclear who sent the racially charged letter. As I am writing this, I keep seeing notifications popping up with more and more people, more and more names on this growing list of victims.
The first thought that comes to mind for me is: what number is this?
We have had over 600 shootings this year alone with about 116, or 17%, of the victims of said shootings being African American men. We have had several other undocumented crimes against African Americans, some of which are just now being uncovered due to all of the people speaking out against this persisting violence, and many others that are still being silenced. Why is just now becoming prevalent in our allegedly progressive society?
For those who are still saying all lives matter, all lives should matter. The fact of the matter is that we need BLM more than ever because too many people believe they don't. They apparently didn't matter hundreds of years ago when their ancestors were enslaved, stripped of everything they had and taken to a land in which people would rip them off for centuries after. We were able to end slavery, the state of being legally or forcefully bound to work for someone for no pay in often deplorable conditions, but we have not been able to break away from the mindset of African Americans being unfit to be active members of society.
This is the same country in which we have elected our first black president to office just eight years ago. The same one who was recently named by the "Rolling Stone" as one of the most successful presidents in history, despite being left with the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008 (neither of which happened during his presidency).
For all the people who are still confused about what this entails, I just want you to be left with this:
Maybe people don't want to fear for their lives where, in similar situations, their fellow human beings would not have to. Maybe they don't like having their children see them being shot to death for petty crimes. Maybe, unfortunately to their chagrin, they have had to come to terms with the fact that there are people who do not know what a person looks like, but this should not conclude our fight. This is everybody's problem because they are a part of everybody, making up a lot of our country's legislature, innovators and families—we can't spell "African Americans" without using the word "American," and they make up a sizable chunk of our population.