Lil Wayne doesn’t care about the Black Lives Matter movement. Lil Wayne, a young black man, said he doesn’t feel connected to a “damn thing that ain’t got nothing to do with [him].” A black man doesn’t care about a movement to protect black men. So why should I care about the Black Lives Matter movement? I’m an upper-middle class white girl in an ultra-safe suburban area. But, unlike Lil Wayne, I think this movement has a lot to do with me, and anyone living in this country should feel the same way.
In 2012, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, unarmed, in his Sanford, Florida neighborhood. In 2013, his killer George Zimmerman, a civilian neighborhood patroller, was acquitted of his second degree murder charges. Soon after, twitter saw the birth of #blacklivesmatter.
In 2014, the movement spread from online activism to public protests, as the deaths of Michael Brown, 18, and Eric Garner, 43, became national news. Then, a tidal wave of outrage and injustice: stories of innocent black men brutalized or killed began flooding social media and becoming a large part of social and political discourse. As I saw more and more stories, seemingly more and more outrageously unjust but all unresolved, unpunished, I began wondering how there were suddenly so many of these horrible events happening at once.
But they aren’t becoming more frequent. They are just becoming more noticed.
That realization made #blacklivesmatter important to me. Because the fact that these horrible killings have been happening all along, but the nation never knew or cared, means that there is so much more going on here than a few racist people with guns.
It means that deep-seated racism in many police officers makes a disabled black man sitting in his car seem to be more of a threat than a white man waving guns around (Keith Lamont Scott, Charlotte-Mecklenburg). It means that judges, appointed to be fair and unbiased, see “I don’t know” as an acceptable reason for an officer to shoot a black man lying on the ground with his hands in the air (Charles Kinsey, Miami). It means that juries, the safeguard against elitist legal decisions, intended to represent the opinions of the average person, aren’t outraged and distraught by these horrible acts.
So how does it affect me? I’m not the one who’s at risk. I don’t have to worry about being shot for no reason. In fact, since early childhood, I have been taught that police officers should be my first choice if I am in danger or in need of help. But who can black children go to? I am deeply disturbed because these officers, who possess enormous responsibility, who have always been portrayed as the embodiment of justice and who have guns at their fingertips, are committing unjust crimes and overusing guns and not facing any consequences.
#blacklivesmatter matters to me because I can’t live in a country that idolizes men who shoot and kill innocent people. #blacklivesmatter matters to me because I can’t be part of a society that stands by or ignores racial killings. #blacklivesmatter matters to me because skin color doesn't define the right to life.
Katz, Emily Tess. "Lil Wayne Says He "ain't Connected" to Black Lives Matter Movement." CBS News. CBS Interactive, 2 Nov. 2016. Web.
Holpuch, Amanda. "Florida Police Shoot Black Man Lying down with Arms in Air." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 21 July 2016. Web. 04 Nov. 2016.
Garza, Alicia and Tometi, Opal and Cullors, Patrisse. “The Creation of a Movement.” BLACKLIVESMATTER. Herstory, n.d.