In 2016 you would think that racism would be an issue of the past. In 2016 you would think that you could be pro-black without being anti-white. In 2016 you would think that America would be a country of growth and equal rights. In 2016 you would think that a person of color could have an encounter with a police officer without it ending with a life being lost. Unfortunately, that is not the America we live in today.
There has been countless African American lives lost due to police brutality since 2014. Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, and most recently Philando Castile and Alton Sterling just to name a few. In most of these cases when a black person has been unarmed, but still killed by police the people of America have seen no justice. What we have seen is the suspect, the officer, put on administrative leave.
These various incidents have made the black people of America feel as though we are not being heard. Because of this, various movements have been created such as the Hands Up Don’t Shoot movement, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
On Sep. 21, a Black Lives Matter event was held in the Campus Center ballroom. Janaya Khan, the International Ambassador for the #BlackLivesMatter movement was the speaker. This event took place a couple of days after Philando Castile, and Alton Sterling were murdered by police officers. Firstly, events such as these are crucially important, considering all the incidents that have been occurring within the past couple of years. These events are especially important when you are a young African American college student that is attending a Predominantly White Institution (PWI), where events like this may not happen often.
Khan began her speech by addressing an incident that had occurred just a few moments before her speech with a student that wanted to attend her speech and the students’ professor. Khan went to the students’ classroom to inform the professor on the importance of this event and why the student should be there seeing that she is African American. However, as Khan explained the professor did not seem to change his decision to let the student attend the event without her grade being penalized for her missing class. Khan explained that this is the very issue that we have in America right now. She informed the audience that the same issues are taking place in Canada as well. Khan then went on to describe personal racial situations that she has been in.
Khan described a time she was on a train and a white man yelled every racial slur at her that she had ever heard in her life. No one stood up for her and she did not stand up for herself. Ever since that day she has thought of various responses that she could have said to him. She explained to the students in attendance that we need to protect ourselves because no one knows when it will be their last day. Khan went on to inform the audience that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is occurring in Canada as well. There is police brutality happening everywhere and it is important to be informed on things such as this because the media may not always expose the world to this.
This Black Lives Matter event was nothing less than liberating. It exposed the people in attendance to what is happening to people of color in America and all over the world. Khan attempted to help the audience be aware of the racial issues that still exist in the world, but she also empowered the audience by leaving us with a simple chant: “I believe that we will win.”
It is important for people to know what some African Americans go through because we need to know how to get through it if we encounter it one day. These incidents of police brutality against African Americans is why it is important for events of black empowerment to occur. We, African Americans need to know how to protect ourselves against the hate that we may have to encounter one day.