The Black Lives Matter movement has once again gained some serious momentum this past summer with the tragic murders of George Floyed and Breonna Taylor. There seems to be shift in the BLM movement and its reach towards blacks in America and even around the world. However, there can be improvements made to the organization that better serve the black community and exemplify our excellence as a people.
During an NYU led webinar Opal Tometi, one of the three cofounders of the BLM movement spoke on how her upbringings in a Nigerian American home, in an anti-immigrant state like Arizona, that is only 5.2% black, and how the 2013 the shooting of Trayvon Martin shaped her involvement in civil rights action. She told her story about how she felt about the Treyvon Martin shooting and said all she could do was cry and think about her own brothers, as I would have done as well. Thus #Blacklivesmatter was born on social media and with the 2015 murder of Mike Brown also being a very momentous murder for BLM because it gained more traction through their overwhelming presence in Ferguson after the shooting, calling for justice. This once simple hashtag then became a multi chapter organization that wants to help black lives.
From my prospective as a black woman, I wholeheartedly enjoyed Opals speech because I felt like I could relate to her, as the daughter of hard-working Ghanaian American immigrants, it was nice seeing a woman with the same background as I speak on her experiences, and why she is so passionate about civil rights and black rights. With that being said, I do believe that the black lives matter movement has room for improvement by stressing the importance of ALL BLACK LIVES, and not just the lives of certain blacks.
The death of essential worker Breonna Taylor shed an extremely necessary light on the realities of black women in this country. Black woman has been the ones on the front lines, getting shot with rubber bullets, and crying for the lives of blacks, yet and still, within our community trends such as #protectblackwomen are being circulated because many of us feel like our community does not protect us enough, yet want us to be on the front lines fighting for justice when another black person if hot, this is not to say that black women should stop caring about the movement, because do be frank black are the backbone of it, but if we are the backbone of this movement, we should use it to better improve the lives of these woman and those who do not feel as represented.
In a The New York Times Op-ed written by black female rapper Megan thee Stallion, she explains how her traumatic shooting experience from fellow rapper Tory Lanez, who allegedly shot her in the foot when she tried to leave his vehicle made her reevaluate her status as a black woman in America , she states “Despite this and despite the way so many have embraced messages about racial justice this year, Black women are still constantly disrespected and disregarded in so many areas of life.” This was put on full display when people within her own community denied that she’d be shot and even shamed her for speaking out.
Although Black Lives Matter is an important tool for the black community to fight the oppressive forces of racism and white supremacy, I believe that it can benefit more if it tackles topics within the black community that affect us, such as domestic violence in black women, 40% of black will experience some kind of domestic violence in their relationships, we are not protected in our communities yet and still we are expected to be one of the leaders in the fight against oppression, and vote in droves and numbers.
This is not to say that police brutality is still not a pressing issue, it is, it’s killing of blacks in America is detrimental to many families and further exacerbates the political polarization of our democracy. However, we cannot expect to take down the patriarchy if we as blacks don’t respect ourselves and others in our community, whether they be woman, disabled, trans, gay etc. The organization must do their best to uphold the standard that they have given themselves, and while also working hard to dismantle the oppressive system, they must also try and cultivate in their words “black joy” by addressing the issues within the black community such as colorism, domestic violence, sexual abuse and assault, and other forms of oppression. Opal was indeed a gem to watch, and I so support the Black Lives Matter movement, but some improvements could be done to better help the black community.
Nytimes.com. 2020. Opinion | Megan Thee Stallion: Why I Speak Up For Black Women. [online] Available at: <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/13/opinion/megan-thee-stallion-black-women.html> [Accessed 21 October 2020].
Blackburncenter.org. 2020. [online] Available at: <https://www.blackburncenter.org/post/2020/02/26/black-women-domestic-violence> [Accessed 21 October 2020].