December 5th, we celebrate Sinterklaas and you can still read Why Black Pete is Racist. To celebrate, I want to talk about why #BlackLivesMatter is important. On May 25th earlier this year, George Floyd died at the hands of police in Minneapolis. He allegedly past a counterfit 20$ bill which resulted in him being arrested. However, the police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes and during the last 3 minutes, George’s body didn’t move and he had no pulse. The brave 17-year old Darnella Frazier filmed this whole ordeal and made sure the rest of the world saw it too. The death of George Floyd sparked a world wide movement against racism and police brutality. However, why is this so significant?, we have a lot to unpack here, so let’s get uncomfortable.
I remember the start of this movement when I was rallying and learning so much about it on Tumblr. It was in 2013, right about after the acquittal of George Zimmerman who murdered Trayvon Martin just for being black. The movement started as a hashtag on Twitter, and today is one of the biggest worldwide civil rights movements. Which is cool, but this whole movement shouldn’t exist. Imagine, living in 2020 and still having to discuss why your life matters. It baffles me when people don’t want to understand while it’s unfortunate that the existence of #BlackLivesMatter is so important yet still necessary.
The existence of the BLM movement is important because Black people have been killed in broad daylight for the whole world to see. Not only do Black people get killed at the hands of police, but they rarely get justice. Just for being black. For example, Trayvon Martin went to the store to get soda and skittles, Zimmerman called the police on him for being ‘suspicious’. However the suspiciousness was Trayvon’s blackness. Other examples are Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice let’s not forget Breonna Taylor and the countless others.
There are different instances where Black lives actually don’t matter. May it be to the public, or the justice system. One is when Black people are filmed or recorded being killed relentlessly. And the second, when their murderers get to walk free, get paid leave or even promoted. When George Zimmerman was acquitted that showed everyone that Trayvon Martin’s life mattered less than Zimmermans. Trayvon was denied justice for his murder, and that is why #BlackLivesMatter exists.
aLL LiVeS mAtTeR
Only when it is convenient, right Karen? Where is this energy when Black people get killed and are reduced to hashtags on Twitter? What about when (aggressive) white supremacists and school shooters survive police every single day while Black men and women die at the hands of police at a much higher rate? Where was this energy in 1619 when the first Africans were being sold into slavery? Yes, all lives matter and #BlackLivesMatter does not oppose that statement. When people are saying Black Lives Matter, and you respond with aLL LiVeS mAtTeR, you are dismissive of what it means to be Black. Black people are being killed at a higher rate by police in America, and everywhere else it seems.
i DoNt SeE CoLoR
Also only when it is convenient. Because I’m sure you know exactly what colors ‘Antique Mahogany‘ and ‘Southern Wood‘ look like, right Karen? The statement that people don’t see color is like saying: I am choosing to ignore this part of you, because it makes me uncomfortable. However people want to get mad when their kids bring their Black girlfriend or boyfriend home for Christmas. How about ‘not seeing color’ then? Yes, being Black is a part of what we are, a part of what I am. However, it is not ALL we are, but refusing to see our color is disregarding the distinct nuances that our blackness brings to the table.
Black Lives Matter in the Netherlands too
This summer, I attended my very first #BlackLivesMatter protest in the midst of a global pandemic at that. I have to say that attending a BLM protest this year was really empowering and necessary. So, we had a huge protest in Amsterdam that led to multiple protests throughout the Netherlands. Where I live, we had about 3.000 people attending. The huge protest in Amsterdam got a lot of backlash because the Corona guidelines weren’t respected. Even the mayor of Amsterdam got a lot of backlash for it, however in the end the protest did not contribute to a further spread of the virus.
Additionally, this led to the fact that the other cities that held protests were more careful with respecting the guidelines. In my city they had small piles of sand on 1,5m distance and that’s where you had to stand. There were enough volunteers to guide you through and keep an eye on the crowd. Other than that, we had a lot of local speakers and even international speakers. The most important thing for me was that there were testimonies of people talking about their personal experiences with racism at work, school and outside. It was also good to see a lot of white people who brought their kids to this protest.
Before I end this blogpost, I want you to think about where you stand in this world. Ask yourself, are you a part of the problem or are you a part of the solution? Due to being on social media a lot, and seeing people have the audacity to ask stupid questions from a place of privilege such as: “wHy DiDn’T sHe dO MoRe tHaN JuSt rEcOrD tHe ViDeO?” I made a video, you can watch it below and it includes solutions and resources too.