What is Black Lives Matter really about? Does it promote violence & looting? Why not All Lives Matter? What is systemic racism? And why are so many black people being killed by police?
Chances are you’ve seen the recent black lives matter protests all over the news, but not a lot of attention has been paid to the background behind the movement & answering some of these kinds of questions.
So, let’s start with what’s happening right now.
These current Black Lives Matter protests started because of the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Footage of Mr Floyd’s death went viral, showing the handcuffed, unarmed black man saying he couldn’t breathe as a police officer knelt on his neck.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Black Lives Matter movement though.
Black Lives Matter was started in 2013 by 3 black community organisers after the death of an unarmed black teenager named Trayvon Martin.
People from all walks of life are looking around and saying ‘this is not the type of country I want to live in’.
The movement is all about campaigning against violence & systemic racism against black people in the United States.
We are seeing that another African-American has been unjustly murdered in one of our cities and people have had enough.
Since it first started, Black Lives Matter has protested numerous deaths against the country.
A common criticism of Black Lives Matter protesters is that they shouldn’t be saying Black Lives Matter, they should be saying All Lives Matter.
But experts say that’s actually missing the point of what the whole movement is about.
So, while some people interpret the message as black lives matter ‘more’, it’s more accurate to think of it as black lives matter ‘too’.
The idea that black Americans are more likely to be killed by the police Is backed up by statistics.
Professor Lee was one of the people behind a 2019 study focused on people being killed by police.
That study shows black people are almost 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people.
Why are so many more of the people being killed black American?
It’s not just about outright racism most of the police officers in the United States aren’t openly racist, which is why it’s really important to understand other concepts like implicit bias & systemic racism.
Implicit bias is all about attitudes & stereotypes that affect the way we think and make decisions without us even realising.
For example, if you grow up without really interacting with black and your only exposure to them is negative stereotypes in the media, then you’re more likely to link black people with crime and violence.
Negative portrayals of black Americans in the media have been around for a very, very long time.
Experts say everyone is affected by implicit bias and that includes people like judges & police officers.
That can affect how police interact with different communities, the kind of punishment a judge might hand down, or how a police officer might react to a black suspect during an arrest.
So, what about systemic racism?
Systemic racism is all about how the systems in society can be set up to unfairly impact certain communities, even if the people working in those systems aren’t racist themselves.
Watch the full video to learn more.
Nicholas Maher, Behind the News
Producer, Editor & GFX
Special thanks to:
Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Founding Director, Justice Collaboratory
Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
Co-Director, Justice Lab
Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St Louis
Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity
Herb Ruffin II
Professor of History, Syracuse University
Chair, Department of African American Studies
Activist & Community Organiser
Director, Denver School Board
Activist & Community Organiser
CEO, Black EXCELLence
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