Opinions

OPINION: Black Lives Need to Matter

By Andrea Makubuya

On the 13th of March 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman was shot in her home while asleep by police looking for a suspect that was already in custody. She was shot for a crime she didn’t commit. Tragically, there have been no arrests or charges for her murder.

Two months later, the world was shocked to see disturbing footage of George Floyd, a black man being choked by a police officer during an arrest, while it was clear that he couldn’t breathe and later died as a result of the strangulation.

These are just two examples of recent tragedies that have reignited the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement around the world with millions signing petitions, protesting, and donating to fight such injustice.

BLM is a movement created by and for black people, its aim is to fight the inequality black people continue to face because of the colour of their skin. The BLM movement is also a perfect opportunity for people to use their voice. The purpose of this article is to focus on the racism happening around the world.

People have been standing up for their own and others’ lives. The global protests are evidence of how people want change in their system and others; the protests challenge the leaders around the world to change their systems so that everybody is treated equally.

All lives matter

Following the BLM movement, came All Lives Matter (ALM). It supports the ideas that everybody is equal and matters which would be valid if it was true.

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A lot of people only seemed to care that their lives/cultures mattered when the BLM movement singled the issues of one culture. To make it clear, we never said only blacks lives mattered; we never said other lives don’t matter, it’s just that our lives don’t matter and our lives need to matter just as much as everyone else’s matters, just to be seen as actual humans, not criminals, or less than.

Police brutality

A big reason the movement is so necessary is that police, who are meant to serve and protect citizens, continue to kill or hurt black people that show no threat and most of the time have done nothing wrong. Some of those people die at the hands of a police officer who justifies their actions by saying that they acted in self-defence.

Some people believe “it’s just a few bad cops,” this would kind of make sense but no matter how many “bad cops” the police department has, all the good cops haven’t done anything about it and they watch their partners kill innocent black women and men.

In addition, it’s the way these bad cops grew up; they are biased and see black people as a threat and as less than. Firing a few bad cops won’t fix the system. We need an entirely new system that aims to protect everyone and not based on prejudice.

My experiences and parent talks

I lived in the United States of America for 6 years and personally, never thought I had ever experienced racism. I thought this because no one told me that even small comments have so much meaning behind them, such as “You speak such good English.”

Meaning that my skin colour and the way I looked led someone to believe that I couldn’t speak well or that I wasn’t eloquent. It is so important that every parent, particularly Africans that are moving around the world, to talk to their kids about racism that they may or may not face, prepare them for things they aren’t aware of.

For parents in general, even if your kid won’t be affected by the racism, they won’t know that it’s wrong either. Explain to them about their privilege and voice and how to use it. This is because kids that are affected by it have a voice or at least understand the difference between them and other children.

How kids feel and how to help

As a 12-year-old Ugandan, I feel like I can’t help or assist in a movement I support: I can’t protest, and I can’t donate. However, I can sign petitions and educate myself and others. By writing this article I’m using my voice to help educate and create awareness. People around the world—both kids and adults want to help but don’t know how. Here is a resource that you can use to help; scan the QR code with your phone.

This leads to a website that helps you find even more ways to help. You choose whether you want to donate or sign a petition and other ways to help the movement.

What does BLM mean to us in Uganda?

In Uganda, whether racism currently affects you or not, you cannot simply stand by and watch these injustices happen without voicing change. These are people are being killed and oppressed. If anyone needs a loud voice advocating for them around the world, it is black lives. That voice is up to us to create and support.

Conclusion/take away

I want to use my voice to the best of my abilities, and I hope that the world and its people become more tolerant of each other and appreciative of diversity.  I envisage a world where people will come together for the good of mankind because we are all connected in one way or another.

There is so much more I could say about black lives, but I will leave it at that for now. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, we must “be the change we want to see in the world.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King

 

The writer is a 12 year old Ugandan who lived in the U.S for six years.

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