Editorial: #blacklivesmatter… trending now


Feature Photo by: Vanessa Guereca–  Senior Diondre Johnson holds up a raised fist as a form of peaceful protest during the national anthem. Johnson was seen doing this at the grand assembly during homecoming week.

By: the editors of the Raider Review

Diondre Johnson held up a raised fist during the national anthem, so you did it too.

At the time, it just seemed cool to hold up your clenched fist, aimed at the American flag that is historically positively connected with freedom, along with Johnson — a senior who told the Review last week he knows exactly why he aimed his fist at flag. Your fist raised, a smile formed across your face as the thrill of allegiance pumped through your veins.

But there’s so much to this story than just feeling cool.

The raised fist dates back to ancient Assyria, mostly used as a symbol of resistance in the face of violence. Today, the meaning stands behind a list of ideas, ranging from unity to defiance. Yet, you are not even close to being aware of what you’re being defiant against nor resisting, are you? Your fist is raised in the air because it looked … cool; for all you know, you could’ve been holding up a gang sign, right?

Well, we’ll enlighten you few on several things, because it is vital to keep up on the latest trends. Woo.

It took 220 years and 43 presidents before an African-American president could reach inauguration in 2009. America as a country has grown since then, but we’d rather tell ourselves this and look the other direction, satisfied, than be open to the fact that discrimination still walks the face of the Earth, wearing a mask, smiling in our faces and telling us to “wait, it is not your time.”

The 13th amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Here’s the catch, Mississippi ratified the 13th Amendment within their state constitution in 2013. They voted on it, agreed to it, but forgot to write it down. It took 148 years for Mississippi to remember to make slavery illegal within their jurisdiction. Racism and oppression have managed to convince people that their existence is no more, but these issues are still very relevant; we should not be fooled.

African Americans did not tread so far only to be considered a trend, or the next big needy cause to support because people are finally hearing the cries and screams that have been ignored for so long due to selective hearing. The Black Lives Matter movement is not a bandwagon to hop and pretend to support when a year down your Twitter feed displays that you were not even willing to acknowledge a post commemorating the death of Michael Brown.

It is very obvious who is really aware of what they are supporting. If you are angered at the sight of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem, yet you can post a tweet that reads, “#blacklivesmatter”, you are not aware of what you are supporting.

If you do not attempt to comprehend the feelings of the African American that sits next to you in your third hour, whose blood boils at the discussion of slavery, but you vouch for our Founding Fathers in their belief of avoiding abolishing slavery, then who do you stand for and what do you really believe?

It seems as though a period of contradiction within actions is slowly rising to the surface for many. You cannot choose what to understand and avoid, what to support and not support, and what to care and display an apathetic attitude towards. You Rangeview students — black, white, Latino, Asian, other — cannot pick and choose because many of our ancestors did not have a choice.

The pledge recites, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Why should we put our hand over our hearts, hearts that pump the blood of our oppressed ancestors through our veins, just to be mute and agree to what we do not stand for?

Why is it so easy to dismiss a police brutality situation that is evidently racist, but so hard to fathom why half of the football team at Aurora Central High School took knee during the anthem? It is rude because people fought for this country, you say.  We’re here to inform you that sitting during the anthem is not intended to target people who do right by their morals, but instead you choose to remain close-minded and point the finger.

You point the finger, though; we’re so glad you have enlightened yourself to the fact that there were African Americans who fought for this country as well (specifically those for the Union, called “contraband”), but a majority were never recognized because they were black. We do not sit because we are disrespecting — we sit because we need to be seen, and now you see us. It is no longer an overwhelming want.

Scratch that, we are elated actually, because you also forgot to add that slaves helped build the country from the ground up, too, and while you’re standing up during the anthem that states the words, “land of the free,” making faces at those who sit, you’re forgetting that you’re actually standing on the bones of our ancestors who fell into oblivion when our history books were written.

Oops, must have slipped your mind. Oh say, can you see now?

We are unsettled by the fact that people who take a stand against social injustice receive more scrutiny than the people who create it. Colin Kaepernick was called an abundance of names and disrespected beyond belief, but several people also had the nerve to claim that he’s a football player who is privileged and makes millions of dollars, so he really has no struggle nor anything to protest against, they say.

Kaepernick used his platform to speak out. It was seen as rude, even though he didn’t have to say a word or use violence.

So when you raise your fist during the national anthem again, think about what you are actually supporting.

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail, he stated, “I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say ‘wait’. But when you have vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; …when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodyness,’ then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”

King’s words still ring true today, in 2016.

Stop ignoring the elephant in the room. We are tired of waiting, so I guess the question we should be asking is, when will you see that black lives are not to be supported only because it the next big thing?

You’ve reached the end that is only truly the beginning, because the fight for equality is still not over even though dominant American society is convinced it is, apparently due to events that seem to mask the truth.

If you are offended now by these protests, you are on the wrong side of equality, and in fact, now you need to consider why you choose to uphold black lives and circulate it into a #trend — this is bigger than a hashtag.