August 9 marks the one year anniversary of Mike Brown's death and new civil rights demand for racial equality. What's happened in the lives of Black Americans and beyond in the Black Lives Matter movement?
This weekend marks the first-year since Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri.
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On August 9, 2014, Brown was shot walking home by Officer Darren Wilson. In the ensuing months, Ferguson became a rallying point, a call to action. Black citizens dying at an alarming rate and little accountability or repercussion for the actions. In the past year, names lined Twitter—epicenter of the Ferguson movement.
People of color opened up the floodgates of what it’s like to experience American life as a Black member of society. Brutal lessons many Americans never personally faced, finding the appalling nature underneath the proposed civility.
When the media descended on the St. Louis suburb and police began moving in force, suddenly no one could ignore the truth: black lives didn’t matter. Protestors clocked Ferguson’s silence and defense of Wilson—even the Department of Justice noted the racial profiling and bias in an independent report.
But Ferguson and Mike Brown are only part of the overall story. A single name in a vast web of connected incidents and similarities.
Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody shut down Baltimore, just like Ferguson. Citizens rose up, woke to fact the international community looked on at the statistics. According to Vox’s analysis, black shootings in 2012 made up 31 percent of the victim while only representing 13 percent of the U.S. population. However, the data is incomplete since all information is voluntarily provided to the FBI by law enforcement.
Additionally, black teens are 21 times more likely than white counterparts to be shot and killed by police. Numbers bear out the truth: black lives don’t matter to law enforcement. According ProPublica’s own analysis, white teens would have to be killed nearly four times a week to match the ratio.
People around the world are left wondering where to find justice and peace as Ferguson gathers to mourn the life of Mike Brown.
Christian Taylor, Sam DuBose.
On the weekend anniversary of Ferguson and Mike Brown, Black teen Christian Taylor was shot and killed by a rookie Arlington police officer. A stark reminder of the rebuilding civil rights movement’s need for change. The Texas football player was killed less than 2 seconds after the officer came across the young man at a car dealership.
No warning, and another unarmed 19-year-old life is extinguished. There are no police videos of the incident, only CCTV.
Police brutality and militarization, the veneration of the blue uniform, means another death without question. The list keeps growing—so long that no one can name them in all in a single space.
And like so many other cases an FBI probe on Taylor’s murder will more than likely lead to little more than a reprimand. After all, Darren Wilson was officially cleared of all charges, even after a federal investigation. Cops are rarely held accountable. That’s why University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing’s indictment shocked the world.
After Brown’s death, people called for body cams. And it was that body cam that showed Tensing’s callous regard for Sam DuBose’s life. Policing unnecessarily, killing indiscriminately, and trying to hide behind a shield. Just like six officers are charged in the wrongful death of Gray. But the bigger question is will the defendants face jail time? Historically, the numbers are very low.
Things have to change. The list of murdered Black Americans rises every week, sometimes two or three a week. The never-ending cycle flooding the 24-hour news feed asks: how much do non-white lives really matter in the United States?
Black Women Lives Matter.
Even though the movement began a year before Brown’s death, Black Lives Matter gained prominence during the unrest in Ferguson. Underreported by media is the fact Black women have been at the forefront of law enforcement accountability.
The Root reports the social media activism began after George Zimmerman’s acquittal for killing Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in July 2013. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi decided no more willful ignorance of injustice.
In an article for The Feminist Wire, Garza says when Martin was “post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed,” a larger message needed to be heard.
Racial inequality didn’t end the moment affirmative action was signed into law. The movement aims to “(re)build the Black liberation movement” and affirm civil rights for all Black people—regardless of gender, socioeconomic class, and nationality—by demanding justice from an excessive intentional power imbalance.
I was shot with a rubber bullet before I was ever teargassed. In the neighborhood I grew up in. Standing in a front yard passing out waters.— ShordeeDooWhop (@Nettaaaaaaaa) August 9, 2015
While media articles focus the discussions on the death of Black men, #SayHerName demands answers for the lives of Black woman. Sandra Bland’s murder in Texas was only one of five women in July, yet the number of articles compared to other parts of the Black Lives Matter is staggeringly different.
Death matters to the families of killed women like Rekia Boyd, Shelly Frey and Yvette Smith. When media focused solely on the heterosexual male perspective, Garza believes all actions contribute “to equal invisibility and non-relevancy” of the queer Black women’s foundation of the movement.
There must be no erasure by journalists in order for Black lives to matter.
Legacy of Change.
Maintaining momentum is more than social justice legacy; it’s the next step in promoting social change.
Since rising to the forefront of the Ferguson movement, Black Lives Matter’s inspired change across the globe. In Israel, Ethiopian Jews demanded representation after police officers murdered a member of the Black community. Standing up for rights isn’t only for Americans and activism isn’t limited to one particular subject, either.
The Dominican Republic’s recent push for mass deportation of Haitians shows a strong anti-black narrative that reaches across many different parts of the world. Taking away a person’s statehood strips any legal protection. Tensions have mounted between the neighboring countries since 2000, but stateless people are not limited to the small Caribbean nations.
Xenophobia and racism create a strong tempestuous backlash for non-Western Europeans, like Africans and Middle Easterners facing death in the Mediterranean Sea. Refugees in a last-ditch effort to flee unsafe and failing nation-states face asylum rejection.
Surviving emigrants then face a growing sentiment of anti-immigration, trading one set of distrust for another. According to The Independent, U.K. Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond believes that EU law doesn't prevent the ability "to return those who are not entitled to claim asylum back to their countries of origin."
An action that UN special rapporteur Francois Crepeau deals heavily with the fact white Northern Europeans are welcome in Britain, but racism is the stopgap.
"It is remarkable that in most of our countries we have nothing against numerous Germans and French coming in and we dislike profoundly that people with darker skin colours are coming in."
The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees doesn’t have definitive denationalized statistics but estimates the number to be over 10 million worldwide. With 3.5 million known immigrants from 64 national statistics, it’s clear that stateless numbers impact a large portion of the non-White population. And some of those lives are based in America.
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Black Lives Matter and Ferguson are no longer a national statements of solidarity. Instead Ferguson and Black Lives Matter are international rally cries demanding equality.