July 2016 was HUGE for the African-American Civil Rights Movement. You thought we left that back in the 1960s? Think again. Because #BlackLivesMatter is the same army, in a different uniform.
This version of the Civil Rights Movement started in 2013, a year after George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in Florida.
Zimmerman was allowed to walk away without any consequences. Duh.
Okay maybe not without any consequences. By 2013 he became the most hated person on the Internet thanks to the hashtag ‘#BlackLivesMatter’.
This movement was started by writer-turned-activists: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. Think Arundhati Roy meets Anna Hazare. And it deals with pretty horrible issues like racial profiling (stereotyping people based on their race/color) and police brutality (abuse of power).
#BLM protests had been intensifying over the last few years. Every time there were incidents of violence against blacks, the blacks protested. But here’s when it became really intense…
On 5th July, 37-year-old Alton Sterling thought it was a good day to sell some CDs outside a convenience store. Sure, he owned a gun but he was carrying it for his own safety (for the record, the Second Amendment applies to black people too). But 2 white officers from the Baton Rouge Police Department in Louisiana shot and killed him “on suspicion” any way. You know, because which black guy holding a gun is not a safety threat?
The same thing happened the next day, when 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot in the arm a couple of times by the Minnesota police. This time it’s because a black guy was trying to prove that he had the license to carry a weapon. His girlfriend, who was sitting in the car right next to him, even managed to capture incriminating evidence on video.
But sh*t REALLY hit the fan on 7th July, when a sniper named Micah Xavier Johnson, shot and killed 5 police officers during a #BlackLivesMatter protest in Dallas.
Think of it like this: if #BLM = Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement, Micah Xavier Johnson probably thought of himself as the American version of Bhagat Singh, who thought the movement was great, but things would move a whole lot faster if he took matters into his own hands.
ANYWAY. Things went from bad to worse, and now all of America can’t stop talking about what’s going on, but no one can agree on who the victims really are.
For example: President Obama attended a memorial for the slain officers but said the cause of such attacks was bigotry in police departments. Beyoncé wrote an open letter criticizing the killing of Castille and Sterling but said that shooting white people wasn’t going to solve the problem. And as far as Twitter hashtags go (because its 2016 and the Twitterati can now be quoted just like Fitzgerald and Shakespeare), “#WhiteLivesMatter! #BlueLivesMatter! Heck, #AllLivesMatter.”
The debate has escalated into a H.U.G.E. one in the US, and somehow, even though it isn’t making headlines atm (thank god because only another tragedy would lead to that), it’s definitely simmering under the surface.