- Taking A Stand
The racial injustices that have existed in our world in the past centuries are horrifying. As I watch videos and read articles, I ponder, ‘what has our world become?’ and ask myself, ‘why do we face so much injustice and prejudice in this world?’. With the privilege that we have, I am grateful for my community and the opportunities we are blessed with as international students. However, I cannot help but feel lost as to what we are making of this privilege and why we even have it when oppression or discrimination is so prevalent in our society. The primary reason as to why I am writing this article is to stimulate our minds and emotions so that we, as a community, can learn together, and take action to attain justice.
Everyone is chanting ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’. Seisen students, in particular, have also voiced their thoughts on educational reforms, so that the younger generations can unlearn the internalized oppression against people of color and learn how to be anti-racist. The impact of this movement proves that if we come together as a community and fight for these causes, we can fight systemic racism and oppression against blacks step-by-step.
With that, we cannot oversee the fact that the on-going protests result in police violence against citizens to suppress their opinions. Moreover, the police abuse their powers by targeting journalists reporting the situation, or even those simply walking or politely protesting. According to CBS News, in Buffalo, New York, two policemen were convicted of pushing a 75-year-old man who landed on his head and started bleeding. The police reported the incident in a statement that said, ‘one person was injured when he tripped and fell’, even though a videotape clearly showed the police shoving a man onto the ground and passing by him as if nothing had happened. It was reported that the officers were suspended without pay, and were not fired from the police department. It is upsetting to know that policemen, who pledged to serve and protect their citizens, abused a citizen who was not even a threat to them. Police officers continuously use misconduct against unarmed protestors, which is absurd as their role is to provide protection, not the opposite. Often, the police throw tear gas, fire rubber bullets and bring armed trucks during demonstrations, and use it against those who are simply exercising their right to speak up and protest.
Last week, another black man, Rayshard Brooks, was murdered during a period where many are grieving the gruesome murder of black people and are standing up for the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement. Brooks was under the influence of alcohol and was sleeping in his car at a Wendy’s drive-through in Atlanta when 2 policemen were called by the workers to question him. After Brooks answered politely to the police’s question and resisted arrest, the first police officer shot him two times in the back. According to CNN, ‘prosecutors allege that he declared, “I got him” after firing the shots and he did not provide medical attention for two minutes and 12 seconds’. The two policemen are currently facing charges including felony murder and assault charges. Even when we know that police are capable of such things, why do we call them in these situations? If more harm is done than good, if people are killed for their race, wouldn’t it be better to not call for help at all?
For the past few weeks, protestors have been shouting, ‘Defund the Police’. This means that some of the funding that goes into police departments will be redistributed to implement measures to prevent crimes. The idea is that if we invest our resources and time into building our community and advancing our public safety system, we wouldn’t need to rely on the police force as a way to solve such issues. Although police have a role in our justice system, we shouldn’t solely put them in charge of protecting our community. In order to ensure safety, we must have different perspectives, especially of those who specialize in a certain field because they are capable of solving some problems succinctly unlike police who resort to unnecessary use of force. The Minneapolis City Council declared that they would be taking serious measures to replace the police force with a more efficient public safety model. Other states are also initiating police reforms in order to better the justice system and are looking to pay more attention to mental health institutions, and the prevention of crimes through better security and law enforcement.
Everyone should feel safe living in their homes, going for a morning run, or having food delivered. No one should feel terrified of getting killed based on the pigment of their skin. Black people deserve to live the way they want to, how they want to. The protests are igniting change in our society, which people have awaited for centuries. We cannot treat this movement as a trend and return to our daily lives. We cannot stay egocentric and only focus on our first-world problems. We must acknowledge and ACT on the fact that we have certain privileges that need to be put to something good, such as helping those in need or pushing for reforms in our social justice system. This is the least we could do. As a brown student who went to a Japanese school, I was always conscious and scared of how people would perceive me. I can’t even imagine how it feels to be afraid of even walking outside, but I know that it is possible to combat systemic oppression against minorities.
So we ALL have to show our support, talk about these issues, and ignite change in our societies.
1. CNN. "Atlanta officers turn themselves in on charges in the death of Rayshard Brooks." CNN. 18 Jun. 2020. Web. 20 Jun. 2020. <https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/18/us/rayshard-brooks-atlanta-shooting-thursday/index.html>
2. N.a. "Video shows elderly man hitting his head on the ground after being shoved by police in Buffalo." Cbsnews.com. 5 Jun. 2020. Web. 20 Jun. 2020. <https://www.cbsnews.com/news/buffalo-man-police-pushed-elderly-hit-head-protests-niagara-square/>
3. YouTube. "Joe Biden - Reforming the Police | The Daily Social Distancing Show." YouTube. n.d. Web. 20 Jun. 2020. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmUL1IYbH0U>
4. David A Love. "Violent protest reflects the violence of the system." Aljazeera.com. n.d. Web. 20 Jun. 2020. <https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/violent-protest-reflects-violence-system-200607184935171.html>
5. YouTube. "Cops Meet Police Brutality Protests with More Police Brutality | The Daily Social Distancing Show." YouTube. n.d. Web. 20 Jun. 2020. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpXXUC623ow>
6. Kenya Evelyn. "How TV crime shows erase racism and normalize police misconduct." the Guardian. 25 Jan. 2020. Web. 20 Jun. 2020. <http://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/jan/25/law-and-disorder-how-shows-cloud-the-public-view-of-criminal-justice>
- Social Justice
- Taking a Stand