Saturday, June 6, 2020

The "Black Lives Matter" movement in the eyes of a 14 year old

My family and I are supposed to be in Chicago this weekend for a family getaway. Instead, we participated in a peaceful protest. The past few days, I’ve been doing a lot of learning, listening and talking to my kids about the Black Lives Matter movement. It's extremely important for us to teach the girls to speak up for themselves, state their opinions and let their voices be heard. Being a minority, it’s even more important to me that they are willing to learn, accept and appreciate the diversity. Talking about racism to young children can be difficult and uncomfortable but it must be done. I am incredibly proud of Courtney for standing up in what she believes. Today, I wanted to share how BLM movement in the eyes of my 14 year-old daughter. This is 100% her raw feelings and emotions.
"I would like to preface this post with a message: I am in no way, shape, or form trying to speak FOR African American lives because what they have endured since the beginning of time, is not my story to tell. I am just stating my views and opinions on the movement and breaking it up into separate sections to make it easier to understand. I sincerely apologize if anything I say seems as if I am trying to downplay their hardships, it is not my intent. Also, I am not generalizing any group of people in this post; my views are based solely on what the media has shown along with discussions I have had with my peers.

Police/Law Enforcement: To start off, I personally do not have any family who is part of law enforcement, whether that be a cop or part of the ARMY. From what I have witnessed this past couple of days, I can honestly say I am glad. The way that law enforcement has been treating ordinary people like me, who are protesting for a good cause, makes me wonder who the police are actually trying to protect. The acronym "ACAB" has been a recurring controversial phrase. A big misconception is that it means "All Cops Are Bad," when in reality, it stands for "All Cops Are Bastards." That might seem alarming, but not in the way that you think. The word "Bastard" is not being used to single out every cop and insult them by calling them a bastard. The term comes from the word "Bastardized," which means diminish or corrupt. While all police may not be abusers or murderers, every cop benefits and is part of an unjust and racist justice system that specifically targets people of color and minorities. I do not think all cops are bad, but when they decide to join the police force, they are trained on how to react and diffuse certain situations. Reaching straight for their gun is not how they were taught. People seem to put law enforcement on this pedestal, but what they can't see is that cops are just like us. At the end of the day, when they go home and take off that uniform, they aren't any different from you or I. Especially now, when some cops are taking advantage of that badge, and using it as a form of protection against the violent crimes they are committing on everyday people, they're losing their credit that they worked so hard for. It took almost four days of protesting for those four cops to even be charged with the murder of George Floyd, which brings me to the next section.

White Privilege: As yes, white privilege, the most controversial topic of all time. It is sad to think about how the amount of privilege you have is based on your skin color, but it is a tragic reality. I know how some people don't want to admit it, but it's true. White privilege has been the cause of systemic racism for centuries. Ever since the start of America, it has been prevalent that Caucasians have been at the top. When slave owners would bring slaves of all different races and ethnicities from their homes to work in cruel environments without proper care, slave owners would say that the Asian/Hispanic slaves worked harder, putting them against their African American counterpart as a way for the Caucasians to stay at the top of this imaginary hierarchy. It is upsetting to see that this is the outcome of all the hard work that minorities have put into the creation of this country only to be oppressed and exploited, especially African Americans. I had (or tried to have) a conversation with this boy from my school when I posted a statement about my personal beliefs on the movement. He proceeded to text me, letting me know that "white privilege" didn't exist and then asked me what privileges he had that I didn't. I knew this statement wasn't about me, and it felt wrong telling him the rights I had as an Asian and not about the LACK of privilege that African Americans have today. I knew I couldn't change his mind with emotion, so I turned to factual evidence. I told him, "You generally have a good relationship with the police. You don't have to worry about being pulled over daily. And on the off chance you are, you don't have to worry about your life being taken because you looked "threatening." Your chance of getting into a college or getting a job is significantly higher than someone of African American descent with the EXACT same credentials as you. You don't have to worry about finding books or toys that overwhelmingly represent your race. You have the pleasure of escaping violent stereotypes with your race, and you want to tell me you don't have privilege? Because I definitely don't see African Americans being treated this way." After I dropped that truth bomb on him, he apparently couldn't handle it and proceeded to block me on all socials. Mind you, he is white, and he knew he had the privilege, but he wanted to spite me, and it blew up in his face... but that's not the point. The fact that some people are genuinely uneducated about the privilege they have in society is scary. What they can know, though, is that the privilege they have they can use for good. Especially in a time like this. Protests: To make a long story short, I am in complete support of these protests. Let me put it like this. If a bully were to steal your lunch money, you might be okay with it the first couple times because hey it was just a few dollars. But, when that bully repeatedly steals your lunch money over and over again, you'll eventually get frustrated and upset. You are going to go get it back because it's YOUR lunch money. It's not any different for African Americans. They have been oppressed for years, and when they would start saying something about it, people would dismiss their feelings as if it wasn't relevant. There comes a time when they're sick of being silenced, so now they, along with other people of color and white allies, are peacefully protesting along the streets in not only America but all around the globe. This shouldn't be a problem, and the fact that we have to protest for equal rights is crazy, but it's working. And didn't most of our rights come from opposing? The Stonewall riot, a catalyst for the gay rights movement, the Kent State riots, the Pennsylvania Mutiny, heck the Boston Tea Party that basically helped create the United States of America along with the hardworking efforts of color. Protests and riots have been beneficial to allow people to get their voices heard for so long. Now that people are protesting for a genuinely good reason, specific people are trying to silence them by deploying the national guard to "contain the situation"? No, we are allowed to exercise our first amendment right without punishment, it's in the Declaration of Independence for a reason, to prevent tyranny.

Riots/Lootings: Now, of course, along with the peaceful protests, there have been some occasions where things have gotten out of hand, but are we surprised? I am certainly not, because when you have been oppressed for that long, it is a normal human reaction to get upset. Of course, that doesn't justify the looting stores and breaking windows of buildings. Still, what if I told you there were video recordings of officers breaking store windows to start the looting and vandalizing their OWN cop cars just so they could post pictures on social media and blame the protesters? What if I told you that one or two Targets being looted, because they denied the right to sell milk and first aid equipment to protesters, would barely put a dent in it's 62 billion dollar company? Target's CEO came out with a statement saying that he completely supported the movement, knowing the stores got looted. What if I told you that if this didn't happen, African Americans would not get the justice they deserve? What people don't realize is that generalizing a whole movement based on a few indecent people and then saying that there are only a "few bad apples" in the police force when they are brutally murdering innocent African Americans repeatedly, is revealing their true colors. Does generalization only matter when it comes to your precious cops? Nine times out of ten, the protests become violent because of the police officers, and there is video proof. Yes, there are cops out there handling situations incredibly well, but this is a human rights issue, there shouldn't be a discussion on whether this is right or not. If protesters are protesting that have nothing but flimsy signs, do you think they are going to start the violence or the cops who are giving thousands of dollars worth of teargas, rubber bullets, stun grenades, and batons? This could've been easily avoided if cops weren't so blatantly racist against non-whites and didn't profile individuals based on their skin color. The good news is that it's working. As of June 4, 2020, when I am writing this, the four officers involved in the murder of George Floyd have all been charged and are now being prosecuted. Our voices have finally started to be heard. We are finally on a path to a better America. George Floyd, along with so many other African Americans, were victims of the effects of police brutality. I firmly believe that to know their struggles, you need to hear their stories. I would like to end off this post allowing the names of these victims to be known. Don't ever forget their names or their stories. Advocate for what they couldn't.
  • Alejandro Vargas Martinez: He was 15 years old when he was shot on his way to school. Say his name.
  • Rekia Boyd: She was 22 when she was fatally shot by an off duty officer named Dante Servin. It occurred in Chicago, Illinois, when her friend had a verbal altercation with Servin. He received no indictment and was charged not guilty. Say her name.
  • Jonathan Ferrell: He was unarmed. He crashed his car and went to a neighborhood in North Carolina, where a resident called for help. An officer fired a taser at him and missed while another officer opened fire. Collectively, they shot him twelve times and killed him. Say his name.
  • John Crawford: He was 22 when he was shot to death in Ohio. Apparently, holding a BB gun was enough to warrant his death, according to Sean Williams, the officer who killed him. The grand jury declined Sean's indictment. Say his name.
  • Trayvon Martin: He was 17 when he was shot by a police officer named George Zimmerman in Miami. Trayvon went to a convenience store to pick up some Skittles, where he was accused of suspicious activity. He was later shot in the chest walking home by Zimmerman. Say his name.
  • Gregory Hill Jr.: This occurred in Florida. Police claim that Gregory pointed a gun at them, causing them to open fire, but the unloaded weapon was in his back pocket. After filing for wrongful death, the jury left his family with an insulting four dollars. Say his name.
  • Amadou Diallo: He was shot nineteen times and killed by four officers. One later claims that he mistook Amadou as a rape suspect; however, the claims were false. The officers were charged to the second degree, but the court ruled them not guilty. Say his name.
  • Tamir Rice: Tamir was 12 years old when he was killed by Timothy Loehmann in Ohio. Tamir was playing with a TOY gun. Say his name. Dante Parker: Dante allegedly matched a burglar's profile while biking in San Bernardino. He ended up being denied medical care. Say his name.
  • Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones: She was killed sleeping on a couch. A flash grenade was thrown through her window and was shot in the head. She would’ve been 17 years old. Say her name.
  • Philando Castile: He was killed for reaching for his driver's license. He warned an officer that he carried a gun, but was reaching for his wallet. He leaves behind a daughter who witnessed her father being shot. Say his name.
  • Atatiana Koquice Jefferson: She was killed playing video games in her home. An officer had not identified himself, yelled for her to put her hands up and immediately shots were fired. Say her name.
  • Akai Gurley: He was killed walking in a dark stairwell. An officer had drawn his gun, discharged, and the bullet ricocheted off the wall into Akai’s chest. He leaves behind a daughter. Say his name.
  • Tatayana Hargrove: She was 19 at the time when she was assaulted by police and attacked by police dogs. She was mistaken for a male suspect. Say her name. 
  • Stephon Clark: He was shot eight times by police. Officers believed an “object” was being pointed at them. It was an IPhone. He leaves behind the mother of his children and two sons. Say his name.
  • Megan Marie Hockaday: She was killed defending her home. An officer opened fire twenty seconds after entering, she now leaves behind three children. Say her name.
  • Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr.: He was killed due to racial profiling. He was shot three times in the back. Officers have repeatedly changed the story, yet it remains that he did not shoot anyone. Say his name.
  • Freddie Carlos Gray Jr.: He was killed for carrying a knife. Officers had placed him in a van giving him a rough ride, where they drove erratically while the detained had no seat belt. He broke his legs, and was put into a coma. He later died of a spinal injury. Say his name.
  • Jordan Edwards: He was killed for being at a party. An officer had fired three rifle rounds into a vehicle, shooting him in the head. Jordan was described as hardworking, smart, and always smiling. Say his name.
  • Korryn Gaines: She was killed attempting to protect her child. She had suffered lead poisoning and there was no mobile crisis team called in to de-escalate the stand off at her home. She leaves behind two children. Say her name.
  • Alton Sterling: He was killed for selling CD’s and exercising his second amendment right. Officers tased him, forced him onto the hood of a Sedan, then to the floor and shot him six times while he was underneath them. Say his name.
  • Jamar Clark: He was killed for wanting to talk to his girlfriend. He had attempted to enter an ambulance she was in when officers arrested him on the ground and was shot. He had hopes of attending college. Say his name.
  • Jeremy “Bam-Bam” McDole: He was killed exercising his second amendment right. Officers were called because Jeremy had suffered from a self inflicted gunshot wound. He struggled to keep his hands up in his wheelchair and shots were fired, killing him. Say his name.
  • Sandra Annette Bland: She was killed for not using her turn signal. During a traffic stop, she was forced out of her car, had her head slammed into the ground, and feared her arm was broken. She later was found dead in her cell. Say her name.
  • Layleen Polanco: She was killed because she could not afford bail. She was arrested on minor assault charges and sent to Rikers Island Complex. Two months later, she was found dead in her cell, she suffered from a seizure disorder. Say her name.
  • Tony McDade: He was killed for defending himself. Several men attacked him earlier in the day so he went to get revenge and was shot by police after he pointed a BB gun. McDade was a transgender man and people in his community are asking for justice. Say his name.
  • Terence Crutcher: He was killed for needing help with his vehicle.Terrence kept asking for help as he thought his vehicle was going to blow up. Officers tased and shot at him. He leaves behind a son. Say his name.
  • Oscar Grant: He was killed by an officer while handcuffed and pinned to the ground. Say his name.
  • Walter Lamar Scott: He was killed for a non-functioning third brake light. He ran from the officer on foot and was shot at from behind. He was handcuffed, facing the ground, dead. Say his name.
  • Ahmaud Arbery: He was shot and killed near Brunswick by three men for jogging around a neighborhood. Say his name. Breonna Taylor: She was fatally shot and killed in her home. Officers went inside without identifying themselves and shot her at least eight times. She was studying to become an EMT. Say her name.
  • George Floyd: He was brutally murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer when accused of writing a counterfeit check. Derek’s knee was lodged against George’s neck for over eight minutes cutting off the blood circulation to the rest of his body. Chauvin finally took his knee off George’s neck three minutes after he was pronounced dead. George was described as a gentle giant and left behind a daughter. Say his name.
That list is not even a quarter of the victims that have lost their lives due to police brutality. There are thousands of documented names, but what about the ones that aren't? The ones that got no justice? Do your part in allowing equal rights. Abolish racism within our country. Make the phrase "Liberty and justice for all.." a reality. I will continue to advocate for this movement and any other movement if it means fighting injustice. Say their names. Let them be heard!"

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