Black Lives Mat­ter is more than a trend

Times Standard (Eureka) - - OPINION - By Bella Volz-Broughton Bella Volz-Broughton re­sides in Ar­cata.

The #black­livesmat­ter move­ment is more than just a trend; for Black peo­ple this is a con­stant strug­gle. From the film­ing of a po­lice bru­tal­ity at­tack in 1991, and the fol­low­ing ac­quit­tal of the of­fi­cers, who beat Rod­ney King for 15 min­utes and the re­sult­ing ri­ots and protests to present day, where in 2020 we watch mod­ern lynch­ings (Ah­maud Ar­bery), white priv­i­lege be­ing used to threaten a black man’s life (Amy Cooper) and po­lice killing an in­no­cent man (Ge­orge Floyd). In the minds of Black Amer­i­cans through­out the coun­try we won­der, are we next? Per­son­ally, I’m mixed with Black, Do­mini­can, Puerto Ri­can, and White, but I have a light com­plex­ion. I never had to think “what if I’m next,” be­cause I’m so light I know I most likely won’t be next — that is my white priv­i­lege. I com­pletely rec­og­nize my priv­i­lege and how hor­ri­ble that might sound, but it’s true.

Many law en­force­ment of­fi­cers see darker com­plex­ions as a weapon. With that thought in mind, I think of my lit­tle sis­ter. She has a much darker com­plex­ion than me, so much darker that peo­ple ask if we have dif­fer­ent par­ents. So, what if she is next, what if her skin is seen as a weapon, what if she is the next vic­tim of po­lice bru­tal­ity, or racism; and what if that en­counter turns into her death?

That’s what the protests, hash­tags, and con­stant so­cial me­dia rants are try­ing to change. I shouldn’t have to worry if my 12-year-old sis­ter is go­ing to be killed for noth­ing more than her skin tone, no one should. But it shouldn’t have to take watch­ing an­other Black man be­ing mur­dered by po­lice of­fi­cers for white peo­ple to want to show sup­port.

All peo­ple should rec­og­nize the trans­gen­er­a­tional trauma that BIPOC (Black, In­dige­nous, and Peo­ple of Color) have to cope with, but we don’t. That falls on the shoul­ders of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem for un­der-ed­u­cat­ing us about these trau­mas. Two days a year learn­ing about slav­ery, or the geno­cide of In­dige­nous peo­ples isn’t enough!

Ev­ery­one needs to self-ed­u­cate and think about the lives of BIPOC on their own. And I en­cour­age ev­ery­one to do so, be­cause #black­livesmat­ter isn’t just a trend. Go­ing to one protest, or re­post­ing one tweet doesn’t make you woke. Rec­og­nize this IS more than a trend, be­cause it has been go­ing on and most have been silent.

Many who have been silent would also say “there isn’t racism in Hum­boldt” or “I don’t see color.” Try to re­al­ize there are a lot of dif­fer­ent forms of racism, from bla­tancy to ar­ro­gance and forms in be­tween. If you don’t see color, then you do not see the strug­gles, ha­tred, and racism the color of our skin hands to us. There is an un­will­ing­ness to un­der­stand that BIPOC have to see life through a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

The same goes for racism in Hum­boldt, if you are white you haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced racism.

There­fore you truly may be­lieve we don’t have racism in Hum­boldt, but the protests in mid-May against the gov­ern­ment lock­downs proves we do. Im­ages of white women hold­ing signs stat­ing “Muz­zles are for dogs and slaves. I am a free hu­man be­ing,” along­side an im­age of a slave in a muz­zle. This ar­ro­gance is racism and it is bla­tant! Protests like these were around the coun­try with peo­ple fol­low­ing zero safety reg­u­la­tions for COVID-19. Whereas the Black Lives Mat­ter protests are wear­ing masks, and are re­ceiv­ing vi­o­lence from po­lice, but the pro­test­ers against COVID-19 didn’t get tear­gassed, shot at, or killed.

The im­ages on­line of the Black Lives Mat­ter protests are show­ing peo­ple of all de­mo­graph­ics, all coun­tries, and all so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus. This is the big­gest civil rights move­ment yet, and we need to keep fight­ing. We do need al­lies to sup­port us in this fight, but it goes be­yond post­ing a pic­ture. Speak out, protest, ed­u­cate, and lis­ten to BIPOC! Even when #black­livesmat­ter isn’t a trend any­more, con­tinue to speak out and fight!

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