As I wrote in my last article, becoming educated about the history that has led to the events of today is fundamental in showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the past few days, there has been major news outlets that have construed the narrative of the protests as unwieldy and dangerous riots (Trump has even requested that the National Guard be sent in to control the protesters) while social media platforms dominated by organizers and supporters are sharing their experiences and knowledge over what is happening on the ground (many times showing that the news is falsely reporting on important information such as how protesters remain peaceful until the police begin attacking).
Many of us, even those from a minority, non-black background, know there is a history of anti-blackness within our communities. There are many non-black folk that have said, “BUT all lives matter,” and have asked, “Well what about us? We suffer because of racism, too.” Although the phrases and “opinions” they spout are different in delivery, the message is the same, they want to move away from acknowledging that Black people’s lives are consistently and ruthlessly taken by the hands of a system that was built by them.
To try to dismantle the anti-blackness within my own community, I try to ask what they know about what is happening and why they believe there are protests going on. Unsurprisingly, they can only paraphrase what they saw on the news (“looting,” “thievery,” “destruction”) and they utter that it’s JUST about some man (George Floyd) dying. At this point I remind them that this one man was named George Floyd and he was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin when Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes despite Floyd stating that he could not breathe (Nickelodeon and other networks have aired a video to demonstrate how long 8 minutes can be). Then I go on to also state that the protests are about demanding change once again after centuries of Black people facing murder, discrimination, and racism in America.
To those of you who are trying to educate your family and friends on these important matters, I encourage you to do so no matter if they mock your commitment. I also advice to dig into the history within your geographic region so the harm can be more relatable to them. Therefore, below I have posted some information I have found over racial discrimination in my home city of Dallas, Texas.
Whenever we speak of slavery, it has evolved into discussing this horrible act as a distant memory, but the link above demonstrates that there were former slaves still alive during the Great Depression in Dallas. To put into more context, former slaves lived through the Civil War, World War 1, and were heading into World War 2 at the time these interviews were being conducted. Plus, as a person who has gone to Texas public schools, there does not seem to be any real accountability within the state that they were also apart of slavery (especially given they still fight to keep Confederate monuments).
These repeated demonstrations of racism being sickly intertwined with “justice” that can be seen in the history of lynchings and hangings in Dallas. This was not something that just happened in the rural outbacks (although there are still towns within Texas that BIPOC should avoid today; “sundown towns” ). Dallas had high numbers of KKK activity and members in the 1920’s, so just 100 years back, there was a major hate group influencing the city. Also note that this is an effort to document lynchings in Texas using a mapping device.
More than 66% of the homicides in Dallas for 2019 were Black people. The above are still relevant since the values behind slavery, lynchings, hangings can be argued to stay within generations especially since it has not been a relatively long time since those incidents. This article, though, these facts and figures show that there is STILL clear proof of discrimination against black people in Dallas, Texas. The protests spanning the entire country and internationally are not because of an isolated event (even though the event in question is undeniably a horrible reality of police brutality that served as a catalyst), it is about the network of events that have happened and continue to happen. It is about declaring that enough is enough, Black lives matter and the government will has to listen.
As an added note, please be safe if you are going to protest in your city. There have been curfews set in place that target POC specifically since they are more likely to get out of work during late hours. In Dallas, the Police Department led the peaceful protesters to the bridge and then arrested them because they claim that the protesters violated restrictions. We are still in he middle of a pandemic, so make sure to take precautions and get tested. If you are white, do not just perform your activism for your social media by taking “aesthetic pictures,” go out and shield Black people because white privilege can be utilized during confrontations. Again, sign petitions, donate, become more educated.