Discussion is Necessary Within the Black Lives Matter Movement


Ivan Radic

Protesters gather in support of the BLM movement. Creative Commons Photo: Ivan Radic on Flickr.

Claude Kingsley-Williams, Staff Writer

Black Americans have been forced to sacrifice a lot to have a shot at the American Dream. Now read that sentence again and look at how it’s worded. Not to achieve the American dream but to have a shot at it. Unfortunately, that is the best African Americans have been able to hope for in a painful relationship with America. In order to get to the same starting line as white Americans, often Black Americans have to work twice as hard, be twice as good, and be twice as loud for their voices to be heard. And this is what Black Americans have been doing in order to give rise to a nation and get to a state of equality. In 2020, it seemed as though some of the work was finally coming to fruition.

 In 2020, to many white Americans, it may have seemed like Black lives were suddenly being treated with a lack of fragility and care, that Black people were suddenly being discriminated against or denied equal rights. Americans heard about the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and more in the news. Americans saw how Black Americans were often forced to face denied workplace opportunities or the abnormally high imprisonment rates of Black Americans, and discrimination in various different institutions. However, the mistreatment of Black lives has always been a part of the Black experience in America. In a typical year, without COVID-19, most Americans are occupied with their own struggles with their daily lives, so incidents of police brutality might have seemed minuscule in comparison. As a result of being forced into quarantine, Americans connected and informed themselves via social media.

 Americans saw the hate inflicted on Black communities and wanted to take action, causing about 15-26 million people in the United States alone to participate in protests for the high-profile killings of African-Americans. More than the vast number of participants in these protests, the numbers represent the overwhelming support of the BLM movement. 

 This was probably the moment where the Black Lives Matter movement progressed to its furthest point.

And the reason for this progress was the internal discussion that America had with itself. The questions of: What I can do? How can I help? How can I understand better? When faced with these questions, America allowed itself to learn about the harsh realities of being Black in America.

However, now in 2022, something seems to have changed. Or, I guess, for lack of a better word, regressed. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” — a saying that signifies the difficulties of changing someone’s mind once they’ve become accustomed to a certain set of beliefs and actions. After a while, it’s too difficult to approach the difficulties of learning a new thing because of how accustomed we are to the usual way of doing things. This is my fear with America and Black lives. Were the months of protest against a system people believed to be unjust too difficult to continue? Was it just too hard to keep fighting? Has there been any progress? 

Maybe it’s because people are so caught up in work, school or extracurricular activities, but I don’t seem to hear or see as many hints of discussion for our needed progress towards a more equal society. And who can blame them? It’s difficult to focus your energy on other world issues when it seems that everyone just seems to be tired and struggling. We’re entering our third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there’s still a lingering, universal fear of contracting COVID-19. Aside from this obvious worry, depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue are also on a steady increase — and that’s just the start of all the issues people are dealing with nowadays. So how are people supposed to worry about others when they have their own issues to worry about?

That’s the current issue that is presented to the BLM movement. The same as before quarantine. Once again the burden to ensure the BLM movement regains traction, the burden to push for social progress and fight for equality, all fall back on Black Americans. 

So what do we do to get out of the similar realities of the past?

Ultimately, it is up to each of us to make change. By forcing ourselves (the world) out of our comfort zones to better understand the goals of the BLM movement and acknowledge the ways that we all can improve in our understanding of Black issues. That is how we make the reality we are in now different than that of which we were in before.