October 17, 2020 by Surochinee Santiwisak
On Wednesday, September 30, 2020, a zoom conference began around 7 p.m. hosted by Professors Pamela Newkirk and Deborah Willis of New York University. The special guest was Opal Tometi, who is the Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter. What is the Black Lives Matter Movement? The answer is that it is a global organization that was founded in 2013, which desires to maintain justice ideology, and aims “to eliminate white supremacy and create local power to interfere with the violence inflicted on the black community”. Opal Tometi is the former executive director of the United States’ first national immigrant rights organization for people of African descent. She describes herself as a daughter of Nigerian immigrants, and lives in Arizona.
Arizona is a state that does not have a huge black population, around 5.2 percent in 2019, which is less than sixteen times the percentage of white people in the region. In Opal’s interview, she said there are “a lot of anti-immigrant policies”–Arizona (SB 1070); and anti-illegal immigration policies. The irony is, they made the law, but the decision-makers never considered that their ancestors were also immigrants.
She said that “the next black or any national immigrants”shows she is concerned about the future if she did not do anything. Black Lives Matter is the idea that proclaims wanting to intervene in public policy, which improves justice in society through addressing the bill for championing equal rights. The equal rights idea has been widely spread and involves many organizations including the United Nations. Considering that the equal rights is added on the beginning of the U.N. charter that “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small” The United Nations has been maintaining human rights as its mission for decades, and the United States is permanent member of the U.N. The U.S. carries Veto power in the U.N. security council, implying that the global community trusts these countries to hold morality. However, Arizona in Opal’s interview shows that the U.S. is not ready to make the country an equal soceity as is the purpose of the U.N. Now, the U.S. needs to ask itself if it should give Veto power back to the U.N. because the country cannot follow the U.N.’s purpose, or honestly address racial issues.
Indeed, when we critique what causes some Americans to be racist. According to Steven O. Roberts, a Stanford psychologist, mentions that “Racism is a system of advantage based on race. It is a hierarchy. It is a pandemic. Racism is so deeply embedded within U.S. minds and U.S. society that it is virtually impossible to escape.”
In general, he explains that there are seven factors that contribute to racism in the United States, in the first three factors are; categories that separate people in a different groups; “factions, which trigger in group loyalty and inter-group competition; and segregation, which hardens racist perceptions, preferences and beliefs.” Other fours is from some researchers argue that American racism consists of hierarchy, which motivates people to think, feel and behave in a racist; power, that enacts the racist law at both micro and macro levels; media, that make legitimacy to “idealized representations of White Americans”( FEDER, 2020, para.12) to be able to minimize a colored people; passivize that cause to motivate others to do and maintain of racism in society.
Opal’s opinion of the unfair system in the U.S. to immigrants and as a black person makes her call to everyone to assist immigrants or black kids far away from the suffering of the system. We need to change people’s minds not only on an individual level, but we need the collective power including government or other organizations that are intermediary to help to prevent or stop racism in the society.