As a young Black teenager, it is utterly shocking and frightening how many African Americans are shot and killed by police officers. African Americans of different ages are being brutalized and murdered by men in uniforms.
Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Laquan MacDonald, and Michael Brown all perished because of unjust and unnecessary police brutality. While police officers are supposed to protect all people and suppress communal violence, many of them are instead committing murders and tearing communities apart. These recurrent killings of unarmed men and women of color eradicate feelings of communal safety, replacing them with apprehension, fear and widespread mistrust.
The pain and brutality that Black people have been subjected to has caused deep emotional and psychological scars for many Black Americans, including myself. Across the country, Black men are 2.5 times more likely to die from police violence than white men. Whenever I come in contact with a police officer outside my home, I feel my body become a little more tense and my heart rate slightly increases. Sometimes, I subconsciously say, “Don’t speak or make eye contact.”
Black people have been grieving in silence about police brutality and systemic racism since the beginning of this country. Some of my Black peers at CA have even mentioned to me they feel more comfortable talking about racial issues in affinity groups then in the classroom.
For many decades, the brutal mistreatment and killings were accepted, and perhaps expected by white society. This issue has become mitigated because of the Civil Rights Movement and the integration of schools and other public operations, but before the use of cell phone cameras, racist and violent cops could still easily get away with murder.These killings emphasized the excessive violence that some officers inflict on black people, but they also galvanized a Civil Rights movement to combat this violence known as Black Lives Matter.
Although I am deeply upset by the lives taken unjustly by some police, I am also impressed by the multi-racial support that the Black Lives Matter movement has gained during these recent years. As a black teenager, I am so grateful for all the support from my local community, CA, and the country at large.
An estimated 15 million to 26 million Americans have taken to the streets to call for justice after these numerous killings of many black men and women according to a poll by Civis Analytics. These peaceful protesters are driven to put an end to police brutality and systemic racism, making these demonstrations the most widespread movement in history! I have watched my CA classmates, close friends, and sports teammates peacefully protesting, holding up creative posters and wearing T-shirts in support of this transformative movement. CA has been extremely supportive of this movement, from hosting school wide discussions about race, creating new subject courses to educate students about African American history, and the constant pithy emails sent by staff and faculty to help educate others and offer students of color solace and unwavering support. Additionally individual community members are educating themselves more about black history, and many of my white friends have told me they have been watching the current news more frequently and even more attentively as a result of the movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” If we as members of a global community continue to find ways to peacefully oppose and eradicate police brutality and the systematic oppression of Black people, true equality will become a reality.