#BlackLivesMatter Going Forward

So far, we’ve learned how politics, social influences, and education have affected the black community in America. So far, we’ve learned that social institutions have found every chance to exploit, oppress, and undermine blacks in this country. We’ve also learned that with unison and swift tactical responses, there is hope for blacks in this country. From W.E.B DuBois to Keeanga Taylor, we’ve learned that going forward with black movements, these tactics have to include social cohesion. With class and racial differences, the upper middle class has pitted lower middle class and middle class whites against blacks. Various authors from the readings have mentioned that going forward, blacks and movements like Black Lives Matter, need to try to include this group of people in the movement. Maintaining the racial identity, black thinkers have established the black revolution as one that must refer to class and status, and one that has to take on institutions that are bigger than racial disparities.

As time has progressed, slavery morphed into lynching and Jim Crow, and lynching morphed into shootings and mass incarceration. The violence and oppression against black faces has seen a distasteful parallel to that of a previous era. Under political tycoons, racist policies have targeted black families with various methods, but the outcome has always been the same. As always, protests are labeled as riots, and are met with swat teams and tear gas. In the 60’s they were met with powerful water hoses and dogs. Again, different methods, but the same outcome. Going forward, there seems to be a much more common consensus about the change in tactics to combat such drastic methods. More people have absorbed the idea that “black faces in high places” isn’t the solution to the revolution. More people have understood that civil unrest has to be persistent and forceful. And with this new knowledge, there will be progress.

#BlackLivesMatter a social movement, a symbol of hope

Growing up in a society that seems to value all lives except for those who look like you can be a harrowing experience. Seeing and hearing things that you thought were of the past, stories passed own from ancestors you never got the chance to meet. Except now its reality. Prior to this class I’d never thought in depth about the many issues faced by people of color in this country in terms of how we can fix it. We all face issue (sometimes life and death issues) that has always been a fact of life. I’d never really thought too much of it. Life was just this in between place, you come here you gain some experiences and then you’re gone, everyone has a unique set of experiences and that’s just the way it is. I can distinctly remember a time in my life when I had no idea that there was anything other than the poverty, struggle and violence that I saw all around me. When the view outside of your bedroom is the local drug dealer standing on the corner, a few social injustices don’t seem all that important.

#BlackLivesMatter swept through the world like nothing I’d ever seen before. This movement gave people of color a voice in a multitude of platform (social media, tv, etc.) in a way that they never had before. All of a sudden there was a sense of hope even throughout all of the horrendous things that were happening all over the country. The election of Donald J. Trump for president of the United States was not so much a surprise as it was a disappointment. Despite everything that was happening I still held out hope that American voter would get past the idea of voting for ‘the lesser of two evils’ and vote based on competency. After riding on the eight year reign of hope that came with the election and re-election of Obama. having a man who spews hate laced rhetoric in the white house was quite daunting. All that we can do as a community is keep moving forward and have hope that things will turn around.  We have never been ones to take things lying down, and I don’t suspect that we will start now. I believe that this moment will be one of the stories that I pass down to descendants, who never got to the chance to meet me. I will leave them stories of hate and fear and most of all hope.


#BlackLivesMatter: A symbolic/historical Movement

Throughout the history of the United States, there have been many movements started to bring awareness to the injustices of specific communities, and minority groups. The freedom that the #BlackLivesMatter movement speaks of is one that has not been achieved as yet. It is a freedom that is a work in progress, though, we have came along way from slavery, people must understand that we are still not in a space and time where we as African Americans, and Minorities feel the same freedoms as our white brothers and sisters. The way we address this issue is by bringing awareness to the key problem that is rooted in the racist established system that still exists today. I have heard in class and outside the classroom that we should be happy slavery no longer exists, however, the ideals and the racism behind it still does. This is the reason why we continue to fight and continue to create a movement that helps us create a voice for our current situation. The #BlackLivesMatter movement have been criticized for encouraging violence, even when the movement has made it clear that they are not the reason why people commit some of these violent acts towards innocent people, but, the medias portrayal and narrative of the movement takes away the meaning behind why it was established. When I look at TV programs such as Tomi Lahren’s show, that preaches a narrative that is not representative of what the #BlackLivesMatter stands for, it takes away from the importance of the movement and getting people to acknowledge the problems that plagues the country. Without acknowledgement we are clouded by a false narrative that taps into a historical mentality that existed in the times of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement. There cannot be any progress with people trying to justify their beliefs, and way of thinking because of a movement that does not affect them. Instead of looking to places that feeds into ones ignorance, you must step outside that box and actually look into the severity of the situation. It is hard to understand a movement where you have never had to fight for the rights that the movement is seeking to achieve, therefore, without learning and understanding the movement from a historical point of view can help eliminate the ignorance that exits. Somebody who is aware is not necessarily sensitive to the movement because they do not have to worry about the privilege they have.static2-politico

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot

“Violence and brutality have always defined the police’s relationship to African Americans. There is no “golden age” of policing to which elected officials can point, and there is little reason for optimism that American police can truly be reformed.”

In Chapter 4 of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation,” Taylor discusses the relationship between the police and the black community in America, and its historical relevance. She brings up an interesting point about how the long standing relationship between the two social groups has always been negative. We are now living in what most Black scholars call the “New Jim Crow” era, due to the immense arrest rates within the black community. Not only the arrest rates, but when looking at the murder rates of black men at the hands of officers, it is important to note the amount of force that is almost always involved. Taylor reminds us of the comparison of police brutality among most developed nations, giving the numbers of police shootings of each nation in the past seven years with the US at a record 7,427, Canada at 78, England at four, Germany at zero, and China at 12 (130). These numbers are outrageous. They show that the police force in this nation is by far more endangering to the people than it is helpful. The level of force police are using to serve the community is more than any other nation, even communist nations. As police funding has been increased, the methods of policing seem to be getting more militarized. People should not be dying for running. If unarmed, people should be treated as such, not like violent animals. This is the reason for Black Lives Matter. Black people are the main target for such violent and unhinged aggression by police.

I shouldn’t have to be terrified if I get pulled over. I shouldn’t be afraid for my life  or anyone I care about when I see a police car on the street. People who don’t understand the historical relationship with black people and the police will always argue “if you abide, you won’t get hurt.” Ignorance is not bliss, and it’s not attractive. Police have not always presented themselves within the black community as a force of service, but more as a force of surveil.


A Revolution Is Just the Means

“It is no exaggeration to say that the men and women in blue patrolling the streets of the United States have been given a license to kill—and have demonstrated a consistent propensity to use it. More often than not, police violence, including murder and attempted murder, is directed at African Americans.”

Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta (2016-02-01). From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Kindle Locations 147-149). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

Over the years, shootings of African-American males by police officers has been an epidemic that has not gotten better or worse; it’s just being broadcasted worldwide. Taylor refers to the protests that have taken place since 2009 because of these shootings.  Taylor points out the protests are in direct response to the unjust shootings, which have sparked a wave of civil unrest across the nation.

As it stands, the protests that have taken place are not going to be the answer to the unjust events that are currently taking place in this country. Taylor offers criticism of the first black president, Barack Obama, mentioning that she doesn’t believe he contributed enough to the black power struggle. This criticism is fair in that is analyzes the presidency that was expected of Obama by the black community.  Taylor also mentions the idea of a parallel of the 20th and 21st centuries, how black people continually get swept up in the comfort of having a black leader to lead us to the promised land.  Taylor calls these figures “black faces in high places,” insinuating that these leaders are offering more distraction and comfort than they are actually helping. This is not necessarily to say that blacks in America believed that Obama would be the savior of the black struggle, but seeing a black face in the most powerful position in the world was a light if shining hope. As a people, there needs to be less reliance on a black leader who is positioned in the media as our Messiah. The answer to the struggle of blacks relies heavily on unity and focus. We cannot allow ourselves to sit back and wait for the next MLK or the next Malcolm X. There needs to be proper civil unrest. There needs to be fashion industry boycotts, mainstream sports boycotts, etc. Until justice is found, there needs to be no more disenfranchised movements. #Blacklivesmatter is a key movement, but there is too much division about what it’s platform is because of media outlets and extremists taking the message into their own hands. We cannot continue to allow ourselves to fall into this whirlwind of  distraction. The goal is to finally be people who are looked at and treated both equally and fairly. The means to get there has to be revolution in our homes, schools, and government.

Police officers, protectors or wardens?

“America became white-the people who, as they claim, “settled” the country became white-because of the necessity of denying the Black presence and justifying the Black subjugation. No community can be based on such a principle-or, in other words, no community can be established on so genocidal a lie. White men-from Norway, for example, where they were Norwegians-became white: by slaughtering the cattle, poisoning the wells, torching the houses, massacring Native Americans, raping Black women.” (James Baldwin Black on White)

Baldwin discusses this idea of ‘whiteness’, as far as I can remember ‘whiteness’ has been this unattainable standard of not only beauty but, also living. Growing up it seemed that ‘white people’ had everything, they had nice houses cars and their children went to the best schools. I come from a long line of traditions and culture, many of which have no real context for me personally as I was born and raised in America. But even so I still adhere to these traditions and I treat them as my own. This country has a way of taking people from diverse backgrounds and stamping them with one synonymous identity ‘white’, which effectively strips them of their cultural identity.

When living a society where you a very much a part of the minority population, you would think that having ‘one of your own’ in high places (Politicians, police officers etc.) would help to make the situation easier (livable). But that is actually not the case Taylor discusses this disparity between what we would expect and what actually happens. Black police officer are just as likely if not more likely to discriminate when stopping or arresting individuals. Police officers are meant to represent hope, they are supposed to be here to protect you and to help make you feel safe and secure. But once again there is a disparity between what should be and what really is.

Growing up I’d always been taught not to trust or respect police officers, for some they resemble protectors and for some they resemble wardens. I grew up in a neighborhood where police were always canvasing the area but would take hours to respond to your calls. This was not only my reality but the reality of millions of Black Americans. Taylor also discussed the ‘reign’ of Obama and the way that he discusses and addresses the issues of Black Americans in this country. Many were disappointed with the way that he handled many serious social issues pertaining to the #Blacklivesmatter movement and the killing of Black people. And although I understand the position that he is in as America’s first Black president, I can also understand the people’s frustrations.

There have been many positive changes in our society over the years, most of them positive. But there are many lingering issues, and even a few newly arisen issues that need to be addressed. Obama’s campaign was a campaign of hope, and although we did not achieve all that we had hoped, I hope that we do not lose that sense of “YES WE CAN”.


From Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter

” I cannot imagine how I would begin to answer her. My “rights” and my “freedom” and my “desire” and a slew of other New World values; what would they sound like to this Black woman described on the card atop my hotel bureau as “Olive the Maid”? “Olive” is older than I am and I may smoke a cigarette while she changes the sheets on my bed. Whose rights? Whose freedom? Whose desire? And why would she give a shit about mine unless I do something, for real, about hers?” (June Jordan, Report from the Bahamas)

With the recent presidential election and the presidential debates between Trump and Clinton the idea of intersectionality is a very relevant one.  Knowing that so many women and minorities voted for Trump, which personally feels as if they are voting against their own best interests, really put into perspective the question of whether people will choose one cause over another (gender over race, etc.). I for one understand how difficult this can be when it comes to real life application, especially when some part of your identity is looked down upon in another community that you are also apart of. I think that we often have a habit of prioritizing some social issues over others, when in reality bring the movements together could benefit everyone.

Taylor talks about this idea of colorblindness and how Nixon discussed this idea and how it could be useful when attempting to do away with “intentional racism”. Taylor also talks about how after sometime colorblindness stopped being utilized simply as a way to deny racism. She talks about how this idea has become the default setting for many Americans, this is how they understand race. They have this radical notion that is they deny that race ‘color’ exists, then no one can claim racial discrimination or racial harm. This is very much reflected in today’s society, where instead of addressing the very relevant issues, everyone would just rather deny that there is a problem. But rather than helping the cause this just adds to the multitude of hindrance’s in the lives of colored folk.

It is not secret that being a minority in this country can be quite difficulties, especially in times of civil unrest such as these. Especially being a minority and a women, but there is also no denying that things are often much more difficult for women in the Caribbean. I can see this difference very clearly in my two grandmother’s from either side of my family. My grandmother on my mothers side was born in Virginia, while my grandmother on my fathers side was born in the Bahamas. Growing up we would visit the Bahamas for family reunions (every two years) I can recall stark differences. Both of my grandmother are extremely hard working women who often had to work several jobs just to provide for their families. One immediate difference I can recall; my maternal grandmother worked two jobs to be able to provide her children with a decent life. While my paternal grandmother worked equally as hard, if not harder, only to not be able to afford even a sustainable lifestyle for her family. These kinds of differences are not ones that we typically think about but they are there.


Fear in a colorblind world

“If the problem of the twentieth century was, in W.E.B. Du Bois’s famous words, “the problem of the color line”, the the problem of the twenty-first century is the problem of colorblindness, the refusal to acknowledge the causes and consequences of enduring racial stratification.” Naomi Murakawa

After the results of the 2016 Presidential election, many people felt a sense of pride for finally receiving a type of governmental change that would be different from the norm. Even though this was a great moment for many people, for others it was the complete opposite. The day after the election, many minorities including myself felt an overwhelming feeling of fear, the fear of existing in a society that does not value their existence as much as they would hope. Imagine living in a society where a Presidential candidate can build their entire campaign off of hate and discrimination of different racial groups, and they still end up being the next President of the the land of the free. It almost sounds like a fictional story, however it is the reality that many minorities are facing today. The problem that is left by the racially filled campaign is what is troublesome, and it is what brings fear to Muslims, African Americans, LGBTQ, and Latino communities.

The 21st century is the age of being colorblind, many people use this term to express how they feel about racial inequalities within our society. This concept is one that is widely used to explain peoples stance on racial issue instead of acknowledging the severity of the problems. What this election cycle showed was how severe the racial tensions in the United States really are, people who claim that they were colorblind and could not see color were forced to recognize the discrimination that plagues our society. For us minorities, this is nothing new this is what we’ve known from an early age. We are thought to act a certain way and function within a society in order to fit into the niche that is considered the common norm. This is the way society was established for all who falls under the category of “the others”. Many people did not acknowledge that there was a racial problem in the United States in this day an age until some recent events, at the same time there are many people who refuse to acknowledge it.

The damage that the Trump campaign left on this already battered society is what is important for people to understand. While walking in the hall way at school I heard someone say that minorities were being dramatic for their reaction to the Trump being elected, even though people were just fearful for their wellbeing. What people must understand is that minorities have to learn at a young age that they are different in society and will not have the same privilege as their white peers. It is not a difference such as personality or interest but it is a racial difference that dates back to the time of slavery, Jim Crow, The Civil Rights Movement, and Now the #BlackLivesMatter movement. For those who thought that racism died when President Obama was elected, they were proved wrong by this campaign. The biggest problem with racial inequality in this country is peoples refusal to acknowledge the fact that racism is alive and well, and we as a nation has a long way to go before there are further advancements to racial equality.     16-trump-confederate-flag-w1200-h630-1x

Making America Great Again: Putting the 2016 Election into historical context


“In these trying circumstances, the black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws- racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. it is exposing the evils that rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.” Martin Luther King Jr.

In reading the introduction and first chapter to From #BLACKLIVESMATTER To Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, it sparked my thoughts on the recent election, and the slogan that to “Make America Great Again”. This slogan has become attractive to a certain demographic in the United States, who has a specific ideology of what a “great America” looks to them. For many, this type of ignorance, discrimination, and racism, has been apart of their life for as long as they can remember, it has been embedded and ingrained into the common knowledge as a culture and racial group. For many years, African Americans have had to accept and overcome the painful history that they come from and put into perspective the role they served in the past comparing it to the injustices that followed and is still happening in modern society. When I hear the phrase “Make America Great Again” I do not connect nor do I feel comfortable with it because there is a connotation behind that phrase for the people who uphold its meaning.

In my Social Justice class, I had a discussion with my classmate who seems to be in disbelief that African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and other minorities are still being discriminated against in the way that this election has revealed. For me, it is no surprise because I have always have to be aware of these social and systemic inequalities that cripples minority groups in this country. The truth is the country has come a long way, however, there have always been the idea of “us” and “the others”, when one racial group has always been upheld as the “superior” then there was no way “the others” could stand in their own superiority. If we take this slogan of making America Great again, along with the ideologies of the people who believe in this, it takes us back to a time where society had definitive rules and regulation that kept minority groups below the spectrum of freedom, equality and success. When examining the social issues that America is facing, this slogan fits perfectly into understanding the systematic oppression that many African Americans are facing in 2016. In the Grand scheme of it all, a lot progress has been made, socially, for African Americans but, not much has changed when you examine systematic racism.

When Obama was elected as president, there was a sense of relief by African Americans because he was going to be the first African American president. This was a moment that many people felt that racism was finally going to be decimated from societal norms. However, there is more that needs to be done on a systemic level in order for everyone to have an equal base in society. Many people use Obama, and other successful black celebrities to make the point that, there cannot be any so called discrimination because they made it, but that is not the case. These few black Americans cannot represent the betterment of an entire group when the system still needs to be reconstructed. This also cannot be the argument for white Americans to make when the issue of race comes up, because if this was so, then the #BlackLivesMatter movement would not have developed, and gotten stronger during Barack Obamas presidency. As proven by the Trump campaign, America has a long way to go in recognizing the the racial disparity, and the systematic racism that plagues the modern American society.


My hair speaks to the promise land,
Windless years of slavery, discrimination and destruction by the upper hand,
I was given an image, a standard of beauty, that neglected my natural essence,
I became what society wanted and not what my heritage sewed into the fabric of my existence,
I get shamed and condemned by societal norms for letting my hair live in its natural state, and accepting my curls as part of my identity,
But when people outside my race wears the same hairdo it somehow becomes “trendy” and “new, meanwhile these so-called trends have been ingrained into my lifestyle since the beginning of ancient civilizations,
I turn on the tv and see commercials, celebrities, and fashion shows introducing these hairstyles as a new and hip art form that has just been discovered,
While I fight to keep my naturality,
When I look at my curls I don’t see a trend,
I see my identity, my roots, my history, mi herencia, mi yo,
But when the westernized ideals adapt this new “trend” I become less transparent, ausente
What I see is not just a trend, it’s not new, and it’s not just a hairstyle,
I see black heritage that has spanned generations and continents.