As a Black woman, #BlackLivesMatter isn’t enough

We deserve more than tweets, t-shirts, and marches


This past week has shaken America tremendously. After five men (three Black and two Hispanic) were killed as a result of police brutality, several Black Lives Matter protests were held to bring awareness to the fact Black Americans are 12 times more likely to be killed than White Americans. However, five policemen were then killed during a peaceful protest, and as a result our country has been surrounded in a wave of uncertainty. Many people do not feel safe, and others simply are unsure of what to do next.

My cousin, Tundra Nunez, 39, was in Baton Rouge at the time of the Alton Sterling death.

“The situation is not good,” she said. “Definitely lot of people are hurting. It affects so many people. People are losing their children, and it’s more of a reality check, especially when it happens in your own backyard.”

No matter what your background may be, we should all agree changes must be made. As an African-American woman, not only do I wish for people to not fear everyone who is different from them, but I want Black Lives Matter to realize their course of action is flawed. When hundreds of Black people are still being killed since the start of this activist organization, it should be clear its methods are ineffective. It’s been over a year since BLM began to rise in numbers, and has spread globally.

So why are we still being exterminated?

People treat this movement as if it’s a trend

My 25-year-old sister, Nisha Gray of Corpus, Texas, commented on the movement on Facebook, saying “Everyone is posting the same stuff about how we need to come together because #BlackLivesMatter, but I have yet to see the actions behind these posts!” She then proceeded to ask the million dollar question, “Are you saying it just for likes?” I believe the answer may be yes for many people.

The BLM hashtag is everywhere. Whether it’s used on Twitter, Facebook, or even Instagram, it maintains a huge fanbase. Each time a Black person dies at the hands of police brutality, people tweet, “#BlackLivesMatter” or angrily write a post about the injustices on Facebook, and then go on about their day. The only trend prevalent within BLM are Black deaths, and “likes” will not bring them back. Tweeting does not make you an activist. It makes you a “woke bystander”. The families of the victims deserve more than a hashtag.

My sister, Nisha who's based in Corpus, Texas

My sister, Nisha who’s based in Corpus, Texas

To get what they want, they need to follow Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr

Malcolm X is undoubtedly an influential African-American who left his mark on the Black community. He gave the Black community a booming voice that could not be ignored, and helped them realize their roots. However, it was MLK who changed laws for the Black community through developing a large support group and reaching out to Lyndon B Johnson and his administration.

My boyfriend and a fellow UH student, Adrian Venegas, 21, said: “From outside the Black community, King has always had the more relatable persona, which brought about real change.”

While both men wanted equal rights for African Americans, they had different ideas on how to pursue their goals.

For example, King believed all races should work together in order to obtain equality, while X wanted to reach it through “any means necessary”. Malcolm X came from a low income household but empowered his race to accept we are stronger than the oppressor wants us to believe, but Martin Luther King, Jr used that strength to push forward through legal means to ensure our equality. We have shown our Malcolm X inspired pride, but now we must follow Martin’s path to change.

It needs to be run correctly

Jazmyn Bell, a student at UH commented in regards to the movement’s effectiveness.  She said: “Marching and protesting to get police to stop killing us is like spraying Windex on a computer screen to get rid of a virus. You might feel like you’re doing something, but the problem is still very much there.”

When we are losing people to violence at a high rate, we cannot afford to waste time. The nearest I’ve seen a BLM activist to a political podium is when they were interrupting the speech. They block intersections, participate in die-ins, and protest, but we need more. Stop protesting outside government buildings and get to their podiums. Wake up and go to Capitol Hill.  Also, when a movement is so high in numbers, it needs a face, or else its integrity diminishes. Anyone who shouts, “Black Lives Matter!” is immediately the face of the movement.

'The problem is still very much there' - Jazzmyn, 20

‘The problem is still very much there’ – Jazzmyn, 23

If they get heated with someone in an argument and decide to hit them, they represent the movement. With that being said, we need less people who try to be the next influential figure head through protesting and tweeting alone. Stop with the tweet activism. This movement is not about who will be the next Malcolm, Martin, or Rosa. This movement is about who will not be the next Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, or Michael Brown.

Despite my personal view of BLM and their efficiency, their messages are completely correct. Black men are killed for senseless reasons, and their families typically never see justice. Black people get frustrated when others disregard police brutality because it is a legitimate fear we face every day. We mourn for our community more and more frequently, so when someone expresses why a Black man deserved to be killed by a cop, we don’t want to hear it.

In the picture below, Alexia Bishop, a childhood friend of mine explains to another childhood friend, Schuyler Montgomery, why Alton Sterling deserved to be murdered. Her first reason is that, ” Alton Sterling was a Black man.” She then proceeds to call him, “a piece of shit”.Alexia

However, the movement’s failure to properly communicate their plans for changing the system have indirectly caused people of other races to dislike or even fear it. At this point, the problem has gone beyond police brutality; people on both sides are preparing for and/or promoting violence.

Featured below are screenshots of men having a conversation about targeting Black people and killing them. One man shared a picture of a Black man being lynched.

lynching

In regards to the violence in America, 22-year-old UH student Loren Jones said: “Killing cops will not bring the dead victims back to life! What is wrong with this world? Two wrongs don’t make a right!

“Cops don’t feel safe, we don’t feel safe, it’s time for reform!”

Some people want legal actions, while others have secondary options.

paige

Paige, a 20 year old in Houston said: ‘Don’t stop, keep spreading the word’

Cayla Cooper, 20, who’s based in Dallas, commented: “Again it’s just like back in the day there became a division in the Black community because you had those who wanted change and found ways to fight back without violence and those that were going to get change no matter what. Right now we have Black people tired of being killed.” In order for us to win, we must stand in solidarity.

Overall, we must maintain our confidence, strength, and resilience, but we must also be wise enough to realize our methods have failed. Paige Moore, a 20-year-old living in Houston, said: “ After a lot of these shootings build momentum for a day, maybe a week max – everyone is behind the movement but then all of the hype dies down and it’s like… don’t stop… keep spreading the word but also stand strong and stand up and actually go out and make change.”

In order to beat the system, you must play the system. We will win.