July 4, 1776, The United States of America declared its independence from the British Empire. Americans would come to celebrate this day as an ancestral symbol of freedom, as a metaphorical breaking of chains of which only a tyrannical oppressor held the key. Some Americans would not feel as lucky.
Snatched from their land, battered and enslaved, many blacks in America would argue that their chains have never been broken, just disguised. When the black man’s chains were taken from his ankles, a noose was thrown over his head. When the rope around his neck was cut, cuffs were wrapped around his wrists. When the cuffs were unlocked, he threw his arms up to rejoice, and felt bullets pierce his flesh.
Within two days of the Fourth of July this year, two black men were shot and killed by police. On July 5th, Alton Sterling was shot in his chest outside of a convenience store, and on July 6th, Philando Castile was shot multiple times in his arm during a routine traffic stop. Both situations were recorded and put on social media, where horrified people once again started the all too familiar conversation on police brutality, especially against black men in America.
Black Lives Matter is an organization dedicated to ending unfair treatment against black people, especially in the criminal justice system. Data shows that black men experience more incidences of police brutality and profiling than anyone else in the United States.
Black Lives Matter’s cause becomes especially prevalent in situations like these, when black men and women are left to wonder why a white man with a gun is so much less dangerous, less threatening, and easier to disarm than a black man with a gun.
Black men and women are left to wonder why a white man with a gun is exercising his rights, but a black man with a gun is a criminal.
Black men and women are left to wonder why a white man with a gun is left breathing, but a black man with a gun is left gasping for air, bleeding to death from a gunshot wound.
It has become more important than ever that people acknowledge the obvious flaws in the justice system as well as the existence of systematic oppression in America’s other institutions.
It is in the best interest of all that no more lives are senselessly lost due to violent retaliations. The shooting of officers in Dallas was an event that should have never occurred.
The goal should never be to end the lives of those oppressing you, but to come together and work toward ending the unfairness of the system and establishing proper punishment for officers who continue to exhibit unfair behavior.
It is the hope of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights that the citizens of America will properly come together to end our culture of violence, and create one of peace.
Michigan Coalition for Human Rights
Salem High School
Note on Author:
In June of this year, Maiya participated in the 2016 Freedom Tour sponsored by the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights. The 10-day trip took 25 high schools students and mentors to the Deep South to experience first-hand the history of the civil rights movement with stops at multiple museums, monuments and landmarks.