This year, history has once again been made by declaring Juneteenth as a federal holiday by the approval of Congress and President Joe Biden. 2020, though being a year full of devastation due to the Coronavirus global pandemic, still caused a spike in the Black Lives Matter movement. Originally Black Lives Matter was a hashtag that trended on social media in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted for wrongfully shooting a seventeen-year-old African-American. This wasn’t the first time that African Americans were killed due to racial profiling, and it wouldn’t be the last. In 2014, the incident repeated this time with Michael Brown and Eric Garner that caused the protests to heat up, and this movement started to spread from the protests in Missouri and New York City.
Mostly Black Lives Matter movement is to call out authorities and protest against crimes committed against Black people by law enforcement and the judicial system, whether that be the wrongful persecution of a person, biased judgment, and racial injustice from the police force.
In recent years there has been documented evidence against such police officers where they racially profile a person, make stereotypical assumptions, pass racist comments and even do certain checks that they wouldn’t on Caucasian citizens.
It is vital to critique such behavior to achieve the proper administration of justice. If the Police do not stop a white American at a particular checkpoint, but an African American is stopped, what would be the assumption there? Is the officer racist? Is profiling a person based on their race? Such assumptions are not only hurtful but criminal towards a respectful citizen. It is uncalled for!! Just stopping a harmless individual and make them go through extra ‘checking’ because they are not typical white Americans. It is an injustice of the highest order than to ‘assume’ in these cases or use a firearm or any other physical force to make someone surrender, a person who has made no criminal advancement to begin with.
When it comes to the criminal justice system, there needs to be more representation in the judge’s panel to ensure the deliverance of justice. Take the acquittal of Zimmerman, for instance. It just feels like a slap in the face; many such officers are merely suspended or fired for their misconduct when in fact, they have wrongfully arrested or killed a respectful African American citizen. This is not the only point being argued by Black Lives Matter; they also say that African Americans are most likely to get capital punishment or life-long imprisonment for their crimes, compared to similar crimes committed by white Americans. An example of such severe judgments is Brandon Bernard, who was killed through capital punishment in 2020 for a crime committed by him as a teenager on a second-degree murder charge. Although he is the youngest person to be given capital punishment (at the time he was 18), he has also kept a remarkable record as he served his time in jail. He was also confined in a special cell despite being claustrophobic.
This kind of twisted criminal justice system needs to be repaired, and the only way to do so is to start treating African Americans as first-class citizens rather than their current position. Slavery has ended long ago, but by the daily occurrences, one can see that racial discrimination is yet to be eliminated from an individual, the system, and society.
In 2020, when the world was slowly shutting down, and there was no excuse left to be outside for the sake of our lives, that’s when the tragic incident of George Floyd shook the country to its core. An ordinary citizen had been publically killed by none other than the country’s protectors. Derek Chauvin’s assault on George Floyd was filmed and went viral on social media. That’s when the Black Lives Matter movement gained actual mainstream momentum. About 15 to 26 million people participated in the Black Lives Matter movement. There were millions of donations and the most significant stream of protest America had ever witnessed; by dominos effect, this movement shed light on the injustices inflicted on Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, and many more victims of ruthless police brutality.
Not only were these victims ignored by the law enforcement, but they were actual victims of the law enforcement. Police are still engaged in killing black people at alarming rates. These Black Lives Matter movements have helped recognize the government that they will not settle for being treated this way. They need all kinds of reparations, they need representation, they need to be in board rooms like white Americans, they need to be in law enforcement and justice system like white Americans as well. Black Lives matter is not a fully formed, well-organized entity, but it is the voice of many African Americans right now. Even though this project has expanded into a national network of 30 chapters, it is a scattered network and not a body of representatives. It was born on the internet, and has manifested its existence in our lives, in the form of justice being served to George Floyd.
However, there is a long way yet to go because even though independence was won centuries ago, it hasn’t taken effect in its true meaning.