Opinion: Demanding social justice

Madison Newingham

Black lives matter.

It seems in recent months we have already forgotten. Unlike the early attempts at suffrage in women’s history, which were set on the back-burner for other issues such as Prohibition, we cannot sideline this movement – it is too important and vital to the health of our nation.

For those confused about the movement, Aspen Ideas explains the inception of the Black Lives Matter movement as an online upset resulting from the not-guilty verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin. The movement was propelled onto the streets after the unjust killing of Michael Brown and many more.

Black Lives Matter is a movement, organization and rally cry for racial justice, according to Aspen Ideas.

They further report that young black men are 21 times more likely to be shot by police in comparison to their white counterparts. Additionally, black unemployment is twice that of whites.

This idea of unapologetic blackness is necessary for self-love and respect. We must rally behind the cause.

Allow me to remind you why black lives matter and reignite your anger – because you should be angry. If we want to see change, we must be angry at the adverse challenges faced by our people every day.

The movement itself affirms inclusivity, despite the rhetoric against its motives. According to the Black Lives Matter website, the movement “affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.”

I want to call out the lack of empathy from whites in the fight for equality.

I am white, and I am angry that my fellow racially-advantaged peers refuse to recognize the continued discrimination of black folks in our society. I am angry at this segment of white people. We have failed to uplift our peers to exercise their fullest potential.

This is unmoral and lacks any grounding of justification.

Pew Research Center reported that 47 percent of whites do not believe the country has work to do for our black peers to achieve equal rights with whites, 38 percent of this number believe enough changes have already been made.

Try telling that to the parents of Tracy Martin, who lost a 17-year-old son to senseless gun violence and racial profiling.  

Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Rekia Boyd. Eric Garner.

The list goes on. Do not tell me there is justice.

While the U.S. has been founded on equality, systematic discrimination has inhibited segments of the population from reaping such opportunity.

African Americans especially have faced great hardship well beyond the years of slavery. The American government has sanctioned segregation in public settings and laws prohibiting African Americans to have a voice in their own country.

Economic opportunity requires social justice. As Elizabeth Warren, a senator from Massachusetts stated, beyond the Civil Rights Movement, several presidents have endorsed equal protection, and Congress typically strives to protect employment, housing and public accommodations.

Black Lives Matter must exist to promote equality for minorities in the economy, in their right to vote and in the public setting entirely. This nation cannot truly thrive as a country unless all of its people do.

Violence against African Americans remains prevalent. Though not all police officers prejudice African Americans, there has been a struggle with police brutality due to overt racism. The American Civil Liberties Union has reiterated that African Americans unjustly serve longer and more frequent sentences in comparison to their white counterparts.

Further, this continued discrimination surpasses physical brutality and incarceration. Socially conservative Supreme Court justices have infringed upon African Americans’ civil and democratic right to vote through their efforts in disturbing the Voting Rights Act, as noted by Rewire. Ally Boguhn reported that the “Republican-led charge to roll back voting rights has been fairly transparent in its goal of suppressing Democratic votes.”

Boguhn further commented that the GOP has been targeting voters of color and those living in poverty specifically. 

This goal has been facilitated after the Supreme Court “gutted” parts of the Voting Rights Act that protected the black community against these strategies in a 2013 decision, according to Rewire.

Conservative efforts have acted as a catalyst to inhibit minority voting by any means they deem feasible. Voter ID laws, gerrymandering and the mass disenfranchisement through the criminal justice system. Disproportionately incarcerating African Americans also suppresses their voice.

Such prejudice to black lives continues through violence, voting infringement and economic inequality. Conservative “trickle-down” economic theory has diminished the opportunity for black Americans to close the wage gap. Specifically, the theory aided the richest and most powerful, predominantly white Americans.

As Warren explains, from 1980 to 2012, GDP rose, though only the top 10 percent reaped its benefit, while black lives and other minorities experienced no growth.

Ultimately, the social movement Black Lives Matter must exist because African American lives continue to be tainted and oppressed as a result of the hue of their skin.

The Black Lives Matter movement encompasses more than just police brutality, as it pertains to the need for voting and economic justice as well. A movement suppressing any subset of citizens defies American ideals.

The Framers called for equality, as stated in the Constitution, thus this voting suppression, wealth inequality and social injustice are un-American and unpatriotic.

Frankly, the first step towards true justice revolves around the closing of the racial and gender wage gap, enabling success for the masses.

Opportunities will arise promoting intellectuals burdened by debt and oppression to move forward and advance fields such as science, medicine and economics, but we must allow for these opportunities to be felt by all Americans.

Social justice will create a better world, and no logical argument could possibly invalidate this notion.

Madison Newingham is a columnist, contact her at [email protected].