Karlee Van de Venter
Five Star Journal
The popular hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has been a trending topic for quite some time, and it is used so extensively that Twitter awarded it a specific emoticon next to the hashtag whenever it is used. Twitter does this very sparingly, with big events such as the Olympics, the Emmy’s, etc. The emoticon next to #BlackLivesMatter is three dots in a triangular shape, each with a different shade, meant to portray skin tone. The hashtag came about mainly due to the controversial topic of Trayvon Martin’s death and is considered the civil rights movement of 2016. Martin died around four years ago, and was actually shot by a neighborhood watch, rather than a cop. However, his death sparked such a reaction in the media that other police brutality cases have been rehashed.
On the other hand, many people (mostly Caucasians) took offense to the hashtag, and retaliated with #AllLivesMatter. Since then, the media has been somewhat split: For Black Lives, For All Lives, or of course, those who are indifferent.
Personally, I am 25% Taiwanese and 75% Caucasian, making me majority white, and extremely pale. I happen to fall on the #BlackLivesMatter side of the spectrum, despite the stereotype that all white teenage girls are ignorant and uneducated on the subject.
To clarify, the general point of #BlackLivesMatter is not to invalidate, ignore, or dismiss other races. The purpose is to bring attention to the lives that are being taken, innocent citizens who are being murdered (which I see as a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which is against cruel and unusual punishment) by people of authority. Those for the movement are not saying that white lives don’t matter, or Asian lives, Latina lives, or any other ethnicity. They’re simply saying that are tired of seeing people of color, people of their race, get punishments that they don’t deserve. They’re sick of the way police treat them, they’re sick of the discrimination.
I consider myself to be fairly privileged. I’m white. I’m middle class. I’ve had it pretty good, compared to a lot of my peers. But I can still have an opinion on what I observe and where I stand on social issues. I am not claiming to have experienced anything near the issue, or that I know it all when it comes to the issue. I happen to have an opinion, a fairly educated opinion, and choose to voice it.
If I could elaborate on how I see #BlackLivesMatter and the purpose of it, I’d like to use this analogy. Now, life is like a road. We’ve all heard this a million times; it’s a path you have to go down, right? Well to make it easier on us, we should probably have a pretty sturdy wheel. Of course there will still be bumps and curves in the road, but I’d rather take a smooth, even wheel than a jagged and uneven wheel down the road. The wheel represents our priorities. If we focus on, for example, school work primarily, and disregard every other aspect of our life, sure our school work will be great, and that section of the wheel will be awesome, the rest has fallen behind. And that leaves us, yet again, with a jagged, uneven wheel. So to fix it, you add in an hour of family time, to make sure your relationships don’t fail. And require yourself go to a game at least once a week. If you work on every aspect of your life like this, the other sections of the wheel will eventually reach the others and will all be evened out, giving you a beautiful, even wheel.
If we take our priorities in the circumstance of which lives matter, we can pretty much assume that the lives of black people have indeed been neglected. Sure, so have other races, but which section of the wheel is currently the lowest? We have to shift our effort in order to sustain an even wheel. That’s how I see the movement. We just want all races to have equal rights.
Since I’m on the topic, let me take a moment to say that reverse racism it not a thing. Unless you are a white person who has been legitimately discriminated against (this does not include being called a hurtful name or being told “you don’t understand”), then you cannot say that someone has been racist towards you. Yeah, it could have made you feel pretty bad, and maybe it made you insecure, but that’s being bigoted, not racist. Don’t just throw around terms like racism because you think it has more of an effect.
In summation, there are people who will believe what they want to believe, and I cannot change that, but I can do my best to educate those who will let me. My opinion will stay my opinion unless I am given new information that changes how I feel. Nobody can force me to realize that, wow, being called a cracker is racist, or whoa, I am being neglected as a white person. Before you tweet about how #AllLivesMatter, maybe do a little research as to why black lives are our priority at this particular moment in our society.