Opal Tometi created a slogan that would carry a powerful message and unite all black people into one; Black Lives Matter is an organization that is working towards creating a difference in how African Americans are seen and treated in our country. Earlier this week, our Student Affairs and Student Diversity and Inclusion departments here at Texas State hosted Tometi to come and speak about her organization and other issues dealing with social justice. Prior to the event, students with a different perspectives planned to protest the event and made claims about the assembly being violent or hateful. It needs to be understood that when Black Lives Matter is used, it doesn’t mean that other lives aren’t as equally important.
Over time, America criminalized black people by labeling us as drug users, murderers and just about any other negative label out there. Out of the 2.3 million Americans incarcerated, 1 million of them are African American men and women. This disparity is backed up by the unfair treatment and judgement laid upon us; black people are thrown into jail at six times the rate of white people. The justice system needs to be rewired around protecting each and every race in America and tightened up to fit our time in age.
In the same fashion, the workforce is also led by racial barriers and discrimination. The unemployment percentage among blacks has been higher than the percentages of Hispanic and white people for over four decades now. According to an article in New York Times, even having a college degree cannot close the racial gap that hinders us from getting hired over other races; the unemployment rate of black graduates is 8.4% compared to the 4.4% of white graduates. We can help by inserting ourselves into the root of the problem; we can be the police officers, lawyers and have higher positions in companies to start creating a difference in the workforce and justice system.
Black Lives Matter is used as a hashtag on social media to reach the masses and unite us all as one. Social media has taken over as America’s breaking news outlets. Users on apps such as Twitter and Vine have given live footage of events before news anchors even have a chance to give out a censored version. #BlackLivesMatter is a prime example of the popularity of using social media as a news medium. The hashtag has gone viral with videos of police brutality and other methods of racial discrimination and it still continues to make a huge impact for this campaign. We are not using the slogan in a negative way, we are not promoting violence and we are not using it to discredit any other lives. We are simply using it to summon us all together so we can fight for our equality rights as American citizens as one and that may be why the nation is scared to see us fulfill our goal.
We are a part of this movement to better the country that our future generations have to live in. We are trying to break down the barricades that separate us from having total equality among everyone. We want stereotypes, discrimination in the workforce and the crooked justice system to be left behind in the past. Equality is overdue. We should have a fair chance in the hiring process for jobs and unprejudiced trials in court because we are American citizens just like every other race and ethnicity in our country. African Americans deserve a social media hashtag, we deserve our Black History Month and we deserve this movement. We are aware that it will take time to see a change and please know that we are all determined and patient.
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