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A Guide to Black Lives Matter: Educational Sources & Protesting

Say their names.


George Floyd — a 46-year-old African American man — was pinned down by the police and suffocated to death from being suspected of paying with a counterfeit $20 bill; Breonna Taylor — a 26-year-old woman was killed by the police in an “attempted drug sting” and was shot eight times (CNN).


Just to name a few African Americans who have recently suffered from police brutality; however this systemic racism currently present in our society dates further back in history and bears more seriousness than some of us acknowledge.


For many of us, non-Black people, we are aware of Black History and know about slavery. We are aware of the prejudices people have about people of colour. We might even sense within our own culture, how difficult it is to sever the old colonialistic views on people of colour.


Yet, we haven’t been able to speak out about it or even give the issue our time of day — not until hearing about George Floyd or Breonna Taylor’s stories. But we shouldn’t be waiting for another innocent person to fall victim to systemic racism. Although we won’t be able to fully comprehend the impacts of systemic racism, we should still be proactive and accountable of our world-wide problem of racism.


Acknowledge Your Privilege and Educate Yourself.


Before beginning, I too would like to acknowledge that I have grown up with a privilege that blinds me from the issue of racial discrimination. As an Asian immigrant living in Canada, I experience and sense racism towards my culture, but none of that would equate to the racism that a Black person would experience in our society today.


Identify your privileges so that you can better understand the problems of racism circulating around you and what you can do better. Don’t just settle for reposting pictures on instagram or sharing posts on your stories.


Racism is a disease that lives in our culture and what we practice as a society. Racism comes in various forms: having your own prejudice about different races, showing discrimination towards people in your school, and even within areas of our legal systems.


How can we change the racist culture around us? Well, we need to first start with ourselves and reflect on our own thoughts and actions.

  • Have you ever had racist thoughts or ‘precautions’ towards someone of colour and let that affect your relationship with them?

  • Have there ever been times where you acted like a bystander instead of speaking out and against racism?

  • Do you struggle with identifying racism around you? And if you do, have you tried educating yourself more about their history and racism?

Please take the time to reflect. This recognition of privilege helps us become more aware and actively changing our thoughts, behaviours, actions, and dissolving this racist culture of ours. Here’s a couple of important questions that need to be addressed and some sources to help with educating each other.


What Does Black Lives Matter Truly Mean? What is the controversy with ‘All Lives Matter’?


Yes, all lives matter, but we need to recognize that Black Lives have not been put at the same level of playing field from the start. Historically, Black People have been disadvantaged by suffering from slavery and oppression which cannot be forgotten within the Black community and within the Western world’s culture.


Supporting ‘All Lives Matter’ is offensive because it implies that the damage to the Black community is insignificant. It basically assumes that everyone has had equal experiences and that society should ‘continue’ valuing each life equally. But that is clearly not the case — the evidence is all around us!


Black Lives Matter helps emphasizes the value in Black lives and helps fill the gaps and disparities of their treatment within society. However the crux of our problem is within our systems that reinforce racism. In order for all lives to feel valued and experience justice, we need to remove the systemic barriers.


What is systemic racism?


If you don’t know what systemic racism is about, ditch your latest binge-watch series,  and instead tune in to the “13th” documentary on Netflix. Systemic racism is when our own legal and political systems are reinforcing and ingraining racism in us.


After watching the 13th Amendment, you will discover more about America’s amendment that supposedly abolishes slavery; however, in reality, the legal system is rigged to criminalize Black People and bring them into a modern form of slavery in prison.


The high incarceration rates of Black People are not a coincidence. A clear example of systemic racism is how justice and punishments are served when people are caught trafficking drugs like crack and cocaine. Crack and cocaine are fairly similar in structure and side effects; cocaine is just a “rich man’s drug” (typically White) and crack is cheaper and is typically what Black people would have.


The issue here is that if a Black man were to be caught with 5 g of crack they would serve their jail-time for 5 years; meanwhile, if a White man were to serve for the same sentencing, they would be caught with 500 g of cocaine. This documentary dives into much more political issues and definitely opens your eyes to the problems in our own systems.


What is ACAB?


It stands for All Cops Are Bastards. Bastardize is defined “to change something in a way that makes it fail to represent values and qualities that it is intended to represent.” In other words, cops are referred to as bastards because they serve a corrupt system.


Especially in the US, this is a problem because of how police are authorized to “use force in response to perceived threat” and many of these “perceptions are distorted by [implicit and explicit] racial bias[es]” (Podnar). There’s been lots of controversy lately whether cops are good or bad, but truthfully, that really isn’t the main problem that needs to be addressed here.


Rather than arguing, we need to do something about our corrupt and political system. You can contribute to this by letting your voices be heard, write letters to your leaders, sign petitions, and if it is safe to participate in peaceful protests.


Recommended Materials:


Here are just some recommended sources passed down from my teachers and friends that helped me to become more educated around racism. There’s also some other shows or books that revolve around strong Black protagonists that I have been watching more lately.


As someone who is very passionate about ethnic representation in the media (especially for Asian representation), I sometimes feel hypocritical and guilty for having to “readjust” to a cast that is not primarily White.


After watching “Blood and Water” and trying to immerse myself more into the culture and understanding their people better, I felt that I was able to reflect more deeply of the prejudices I had.


I’ve included some of them as well here because I hope all of these can help you as well with taking a step closer to changing the racist culture around us — even if it just starts with the thoughts in your head!


Here’s What to Keep In Mind while Protesting:

  • To show your sincerity in protesting and supporting BLM, be respectful to other protestors and the other people around you.

  • Some people may try to take advantage of the situation and cause riots.

  • If you are wearing a mask or something that conceals your face and someone around you suddenly begins to threaten or invoke fear; take off your mask! Once the peaceful assembly around is becoming a riot, you can be arrested for unlawful assembly. 

  • Stay hydrated and don’t forget to bring snacks.

  • Reminder to take health precautions regarding COVID-19: bring hand sanitizers, bring a mask or bandana, wear appropriate clothes to protect yourself.

Sources:

Willingham, AJ. “Breonna Taylor Would Have Been 27 Today. Here's Where Her Case Stands.”

CNN, Cable News Network, 5 June 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/06/05/us/breonna-taylor-

birthday-charges-arrests-case-trnd/index.html.

Hill, Evan, et al. “8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody.” The

New York Times, The New York Times, 10 June 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/us/

george-floyd-investigation.html.

Gonzales, Matt. “Crack vs. Cocaine.” Drug Rehab, DrugRehab.com, 2 Feb. 2020,

www.drugrehab.com/addiction/drugs/cocaine/crack-vs-cocaine/.


Featured image courtesy of Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images


Article Author: Katrina Artes

Article Editor: Olivia Ye

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