For the most part, this is about respect. Black people want to be treated respectfully – and in this present day and age, they simply aren’t. This isn’t an American only issue – though the murder of George Floyd and the resulting riots have certainly put the USA and their racial inequality on the center stage. However it’s an Australian issue as well. Indigenous Australians make up 3.3% of our population but account for over 20% of deaths in custody – so if you think this isn’t a local issue, think again.
By the way … no indigenous death in custody has ever resulted in a charge let alone a conviction. How is this possible?
The death of George Floyd, an African-American at the hands of a white police officer is a tragedy. Make no mistake, the protests and riots in America at the moment aren’t because a black man was killed by a white cop. They are because yet ANOTHER black person was killed by a white cop.
Look up the stories of Eric Garner, of Michael Brown, of Philando Castile, of Stephon Clark – who was shot in his grandmothers driveway, not having committed a crime, and was carrying a mobile phone. His death was ruled as justified and no charges were filed against the police. Jamar Clark was shot in the head while handcuffed and no action was taken against the police who killed him. Walter Scott was shot in the back 5 times for a broken brake light. Google Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times while not breaking the law or resisting.
As a board, we try to keep this a safe place where everyone can find the best hairdresser who specialises in blondes, or can ask what those lights were over Caloundra. But as a board, we’ve also been a fairly loud voice for equality and fairness amongst everyone in our community. The debate that rages on amongst admins is whether or not a post like this incites arguments. As a rule, we try to avoid allowing posts that turn into fights.
My concern with society is how can a post, asking about a peaceful protest against police violence against a black person lead to us arguing? How are we all not against black people being killed by police? How are we not heartbroken? How are we not outraged?
Surely, a post asking if there was something happening in the community can be posted respectfully? Surely this doesn’t need to lead to arguments or insults?
Yet it seems that people feel the need to argue, that people feel a protest against the killing of black people by police is offensive. Not that the killings are offensive, that the protests are.
People are pointing to the riots in America and criticising the Black Lives Matter for the violence and destruction and screaming “that’s not how you get your message across!”
Remember, Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem and was criticised by everyone including the President of the United States for protesting peacefully.
Martin Luther King Jr. said “a riot is the language of the unheard” and many white people who are protesting the protests are using this quote to tell the protesters to shut down or shut up. They forget that the assassination of Martin Luther King led to riots almost as bad as what we’re seeing today. 6 days in to riots covering over 110 cities, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed into law.
Riots are the language of the unheard. Kaepernick knelt. He was told not to. He was criticised and insulted. Kaepernick wasn’t heard.
But there’s a difference between a protester and a looter. A lot of evidence is surfacing showing that the violence and the looting has nothing to do with the protests by the Black Lives Matter movement. In some cases, criminals see an opportunity. In other cases, it appears white supremacist groups are committing the assaults and the robberies and trying to turn the protests violent, in order to encourage the police to kill more black people.
How are we not heartbroken? How are we not outraged?
Something that is said a lot at the moment by detractors of the Black Lives Matter movement is that “All Lives Matter.”
I agree, all lives do matter. If you also believe that all lives do matter, then how are you not outraged by flagrant murder of black people by white cops? If all lives matter, do you believe that includes black lives? All lives matter. Today though, our focus is on the black lives.
When people say “All Lives Matter” what they are saying is “go home, stop protesting, everything is fine the way it is.” They are trying to silence people screaming and crying for the African American or Indigenous Australian people who are getting killed by law-enforcement.
When you say “All Lives Matter” what you’re saying is “I see nothing wrong with the current situation.” When you say “All Lives Matter” you’re saying you’re okay with racism, or are a racist yourself.
When you start throwing statistics around saying “it’s not as bad as this” or “but the numbers here are saying that” what you’re saying is “sure, black killings by cops happen, but it could be worse and I’m okay with the current levels.”
In October last year Atatiana Jefferson was killed while in her home playing video games. A neighbour called a non-emergency police line and asked for a welfare check. She heard a noise outside the window, went over to investigate and was shot by a police officer.
Botham Jean was sitting on his couch watching TV when a white police officer opened the door and shot him. Her excuse was that she thought she had entered her home and that Botham Jean was a burglar. How are we not outraged? How are we okay with this current situation? How can we possibly have a problem with a rally asking for police to not kill black people?
If you have an issue with the Black Lives Matter movement or there being an event in support of the BLM movement here on the Sunshine Coast, then look inside yourself. Ask yourself why. Ask yourself why you aren’t heartbroken. You’re probably going to find you’re okay with racism or are racist yourself.