Image from Politico
Right now, all of our eyes, minds, and hearts are turned towards those school children who have been murdered senselessly by individuals with a vengeance, who had access to all-too-powerful weapons. As we battle to get these weapons off the streets and to tighten gun laws, and as we say #NeverAgain; we must also remember another population where #EnoughIsEnough counts. Our Black Americans.
Every day, too many children – many of them Black – still live in fear. In tough cities like Baltimore and Chicago, poverty and gang culture still pervade the community. We know that making it harder to get guns won’t stop every potential killer, but we hope that maybe those laws can act as a deterrent. Maybe, just maybe, it will be harder for kids to buy guns off the streets. But we need to continue finding other solutions to support kids and their families – providing safe spaces, support for their parents, and education and opportunities that provide doorways to new paths.
We need to continue to fight for those innocent Black Americans who were killed by police, thanks to the continued racism that flows through our veins. We may be trying to change – but we have a lot farther to go. Treyvon Martin. Amadou Diallo. Manuel Loggins Jr. Ronald Madison. Kendra James. Sean Bell. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. Terence Crutcher. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray.
And while we wrest with these incredibly difficult and heart-breaking issues, we can also take some time to reflect on some of the good that is happening. The #BlackLivesMatter movement, devastatingly rooted in these unjust deaths, is reaching Americans and other individuals across the U.S. and the world. Started in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, the leaders of the mission are fierce and focused in their mission:
- We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.
- We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
- The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.
Fueled by the continuing senseless murders of innocent Black people, #BlackLivesMatter developed throughout 2013 and 2014 as a platform and organizing tool. Today, other groups, organizations, and individuals twist the movement and its message to amplify anti-Black racism across the country, in all the ways it showed up.
We are having meaningful conversations – and more than that, taking actions. Remember the intense stirring caused by those football players who took a knee during the National Anthem? More people are alert to their own innate racism, and are trying to better understand and change themselves…and hopefully create a world for our kids where they won’t even think twice about a color.
And now, in time for Black History month, the movie “Black Panther” has blasted through expectations and smashed box office records with a $218M opening. Why? Because finally, mainstream media introduced a real-life, real Black, superhero. Because finally, people are ready to watch. This isn’t just for Blacks. It’s for all of us. We are ready for all colors. We are ready for all heroes.
As I open my eyes to the continued injustices faced by my fellow Americans, I know I can’t pretend to have any inkling of an idea of those little and big moments that Black Americans still face every day. I do know this. It is our job to look out for each other. It is our job to find the good in each other, to lift each other up, and help each other reach our highest potential. So maybe I am a white lady living in the burbs of DC. But I can say it with my whole heart: #BlackLivesMatter.
Kate Viggiano Janich, Together We Will Northern Virginia