It’s time for racial equality (Opinion)

Black. Lives. Matter.

We’ve come so far.

In 1865, the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution helped abolished slavery in the United States.

In 1866, the first Civil Rights Act allowed colored male citizens more rights.

In 1868, the first African American citizen, Dawson Pompey, held an elected office.

In 1870, the 15th amendment allowed men of color to vote.

There was also the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

In 1900, the Black National Anthem was composed.

In 1955, Rosa Parks led the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

There was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibited radial discrimination in public places.

In 1983, the first African American astronaut entered outer space.

And in 2008, the United States of America elected the first African American president, Barack Obama, who was in office from 2009 to 2017.

And yet, here we are at the starting line once more. Even after all the time spent trying to make things rights, people are getting beaten, killed, and discriminated against because of their race.

A little while ago, it was George Floyd, who died while being suffocated by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for a disturbing amount of time. This murder was apparently justified by his crime, namely, using a fake bill to purchase a some cigarettes. Tell me: How does that warrant death?

Before Floyd it was Breonna Taylor, a woman shot until dead by multiple officers who used a battering ram to break through the front door of her own apartment.

And before her it was Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and too many others.

American citizens are yelling and standing in the streets to fight in the name of these men and women. These protesters know that the road is long that they can only move forward by taking action physically and verbally. They are fighting for a better country and a better policing system where innocent people are not killed and brutalized.

The message is clear: Stop killing our African American brothers and sisters. There are too many dying at the hands of those whose job is to protect them. Enough is enough.

We need to use our voices as American citizens to correct what is wrong. With the resources we have, ignorance is no longer an excuse. Ignoring the problem at hand has fixed, and will continue to fix, absolutely nothing.

Why do those in charge feel the need to unfairly treat others simply because of their race? It’s 2020, and that is absolutely ridiculous. Perhaps white citizens were seen as superior in the past, but that was never accurate and never will be. The constant urge to dominate minorities needs to stop. Now.

As written by Thomas Jefferson, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Police brutality and racism have taken away lives, liberties, and the pursuit of happiness by replacing the desire to happily thrive as a colored American citizen with the desire to live at all.

No one should have to fight just to stay alive. Is this what we want our country’s name to be connected to? Violence? Police brutality? Blatant and hateful racism?

America was originally set apart from the rest of the world because of how we welcomed diversity, allowing all people to have equal rights and freedoms. America was built on diversity.

People of color shouldn’t have to wonder if they will suffer an unfair gunshot because they are seen as more “dangerous” than a white citizen. They shouldn’t have to wonder if they’ll be wrongfully arrested for something privileged white Americans don’t have to worry about.

How many lives have to be lost until we use our voices to make a change?

As said during an opinion report by CNN journalist Chris Cuomo, “If we don’t address why we keep ending up here, we’ll never make things right. It isn’t the rebels lighting fires [or] the media exposing the reality, [the problem] is the reality.” 

He continued, “Please don’t just see the death of George Floyd, see all of it… How many times must we try to teach the same lesson? The pandemic will pass, the case will fade into the others, but our real problems remain.”

This is not the first time this has happened. We need to make a change, or it will happen again and again. Racism will not end by skimming the surface of our problems. There is something that is fundamentally wrong.

This branches out to more than police brutality. At the root of it all, we are fueled by racism in all aspects of life, whether we realize it or not. Racism has embedded itself into employment, education, healthcare, housing, wealth, and so much more. 

In a recent opinion article posted by The New York Times, Philip Alston wrote, “Minority access to decent rather than degraded education… a conception of law and order that seeks to ensure just outcomes rather than protecting white privilege, and a concerted war on poverty rather than a war against the poor are the real solutions [to police brutality and racism].”

On top of those bigger issues, discrimination still occurs every single day in the hallways of our schools and the streets of our cities. Racial slurs and jokes are used all around the country, colored men and women suffer from constant unjustified hatred, and people are still hesitant to accept African American citizens as their neighbors, friends, peers, and equals.

I believe that making the smallest of changes in your day to day life will impact our country than you know. These changes could include ensuring you don’t use racial slurs, educating yourself of the topic of police brutality, and even attending a local Black Lives Matter protest, if you’re able to. As the majority, white people hold the vital responsibility of making change happen. As wrong as it is, the majority is listened to more than everyone else. They make the rules. I beg of you: do not abuse that power. Instead, use it to better your community and, eventually, your country.

A common argument against the Black Lives Matter movement is: “But don’t all lives matter?” And, of course, they do! But the race that is suffering the most injustice at the moment is the Black community. They are being killed, and only we can change that. 

All lives can’t matter until Black lives do.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “As long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.”

My hope is that someday, if ever possible, police and citizens, colored or not, will finally be able to comfortably feel that their rights are not being violated, and that they will see one another as collaborators, neighbors, and friends instead of opposing sides.

This is not the America I know. Let’s all do our part to stop injustice.