Giving truth to Memphis youth
By Kaylan Freeman (Kingsbury High School)
Since the killing of Michael Brown in August of last year, social media platforms have erupted in response. The issue of police brutality and racism rose to the top and somehow created the hashtag #BLACKLIVESMATTER. I type this in all caps because it feels as if the words aren’t meant to be spoken in a conversational tone but rather shouted at the top of our lungs. It is an exclamation that has been hanging on the tips of our tongues, teetering dangerously on the edge.
The #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement first focused on recognizing the victims of police brutality and their families. In the wake of the Ferguson riots, its priority was to keep the media from dehumanizing those involved. Today it is more concentrated on uplifting the black community in America and demanding answers. It is a way to quite literally tell the world, “We are people, too. We matter.”
The social media aspect of this movement is remarkable; the ubiquitous presence of the Internet gave millions of people the ability to connect with other around the country. I was greatly impacted as when Michael Brown was killed I was 15 years old. I remember hearing his name on the news and then several times in my contemporary issues class.
The news station I viewed refused to call it what it was and my teacher could only impose his position on the issue so much and thus I began to look online for articles and posts that voiced what I believed as well: The force used was unnecessary and discriminatory.
It took me probably five minutes on Google to see that others felt exactly the same way I did. It took me even less time to realize racism is still prevalent in our society.
I tell this story because in our society it is imperative that we as teenagers, the future of the United States, become aware of what is happening around us. The greatest weapon against injustice is education.
#BLACKLIVESMATTER because for centuries we have been told that we are not good enough. #BLACKLIVESMATTER because our skin, hair and bodies have been deemed unattractive and strange only to be emulated by white celebrities. #BLACKLIVESMATTER because it is the 2015 and it is normal for black and brown kids to slain by police and excused in the name of authority. #BLACKLIVESMATTER because we have been encapsulated into laconic stereotypes.
There are people who doubt the need for such an outcry of pride and indignation from the black community. There are people who are still set in their antiquated ideals of what social hierarchy should be. However, it up to us to prove these people wrong.