Does My Life Matter?
Artifact #1: "We Are One": Selma Civil Rights March
Artifact #2: Edward Ward Carmack Statue
Milardie Milard, Student, Fitchburg State University
Racism was one of the few things I have dealt with as a child, being called a “cotton picker,” many other racial slurs and at some point even had told me to end my life all because of my skin color and my background. I was born in Haiti with my mother and father. My mother was mostly there in Haiti with me, while my father was in America getting a better job to make better money for us. It had been my mother and I by ourselves for quite some time so we grew very close. We moved when I was just five years old. Since I had been exposed to racism as a young girl, my mom had tried to help me through it and tell me how much of a young independent Black girl I was. I myself did not believe that. Being born in another country and moving to a suburban town really changed you. Being surrounded by white people; as well as being the only Black girl at school was very hard. I would come home from school very negative with myself saying why I didn't look at the other kids. I grew out of that in 8th grade. I found my self-worth and I am now a very confident young woman, and I am able to tell my younger brother and relatives that and prevent them going through the same experience that I went through as a kid.
Why did I think like that as a child? I'm supposed to feel safe, wanted. That was not my feeling. In my eyes, I just wish we can all see the good in people and how skin color does not matter. In this world, it doesn't work like that. There are many fights just for human decency. One would be Black Lives Matter.
The creation of Black Lives Matter started with three female Black organizers: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. They created this movement to help raise awareness for the murders in the world by the number of deaths of Black people by law enforcement. Black Lives Matter. They will and always will matter. When we say “BLM,” it’s not to overrule everyone. Just because that is said, doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter because they do. In my opinion, I feel as if “ALM’” was created to overpower “BLM” as a form of “my life matters too.” Of course your life matters as well as everyone else's. The reason being is Black people and other people of color's lives need more attention because of what has happened to them. The police brutality, the racism as well as the murder of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, and many others. It needs to be stopped. We are tired. I am tired of seeing my people being falsely accused and shot for no reason. Shahvisi said, “Soon after the inception of the BLM movement, it was itself thwarted by baffling accusations of racism, often accompanied with the rejoinder: ‘All Lives Matter’.” In my own words, just because someone is not part of something does not mean they are “leaving you out.” It does not apply to you. You are not oppressed as others are and that is okay. But making an “ALM'' saying because you do not believe Black people should have all the spotlight makes you an ungrateful being. You should be thankful for your life and glad you weren't killed from doing nothing.
Trayvon Martin was a seventeen-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watchman named George Zimmerman. (FOLEY, RYAN J.). He was unarmed and Zimmermam claimed they had a physical altercation and used shooting Martin as self-defense. How are you going to tell me you had physical contact with an underaged unarmed boy and the first thing you do is load out your weapon and fire as self-defense. Self-defense? No. He was 17. Do better.
I personally feel like a lot of people don't really look into or understand sensitive topics like this because of how they were raised in school as well as by their families. Racism is overlooked today. It has now been an eye-opener for people who did not see racism in the past but one main thing that is overlooked is white privilege. White Privilege is something that a lot of people get confused on. The meaning of white privilege isn't the privilege that you had growing up; getting nice things, having a good life. you could have grown up having an awful life but when someone says you have privilege, they are not targeting that. They are targeting the color of your skin. You are not a threat to people. You are socially acceptable. It’s really hard sometimes for people to grasp that understanding. Going along with white privilege, in history, most people have been brainwashed to show people how things are supposed to be when they aren't.
For example, there have been many artifacts to symbolize America. Statues, memorials, museums. Now ask yourself this question. Why would people tear down statues of people that are for historic reasoning? Even though it's a materialistic “thing,” it symbolizes hatred. Edward Ward was a man of hatred. The statue was first put up by the work of American sculptor Nancy Cox-McCormack. Edward Ward was in support of lynching Black people. Do you see how messed up that is? He was in support of lynching Black lives. Why? What’s the reason for all this hatred? Why do some people see nothing wrong with it? It is disgusting and makes me sick. That’s why they tear it down. It's hurtful and hateful and something like that shouldn't get any more attention than it already has. This is where people question why an artifact like a statue is so hurtful. It’s a materialistic thing. It’s not real. It is real, it's real in your heart and mind. It does not matter what it is. You still can be hurt by it and no one can tell you otherwise.
Take Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus relates to Edward Ward in the sense that no one knew what they thought or cared about because they were solely focused on that fact of being a “good person.” Were they? No. No one knew Edward Ward was in support of lynching, only that he was the face of civil rights. Christopher Columbus attempted to make a discovery that wasn't his own. When we were younger, what did teachers tell us that he did? Discovered America. All of us believed that it was true and he gained the power he wanted. It was all wrong. He stole the land from Native Americans. So why was he praised? Why are these historic figures getting praised left and right for not doing anything? While you have people getting shunned away from the internet because of how they present themselves.
Claudette Colvin. The first Black woman to give up her seat at fifteen years old. You thought it was Rosa Parks? You want to know why Rosa Parks took that title, Claudette was pregnant. She was pregnant at 15. How would that look for the media. Not good. So when Rosa Parks came and did the same, all the light went on her because she was a better fit. How messed up is that? You have a woman figure standing up for themself and they get turned away for better publicity, but a couple of old white guys slap their name on something that is not there and they get praised. No.
Out of all of my artifacts, every single one of them are important to talk about because every single one describes a piece of history that is not talked about. The deeper version. The image. Why do people get so hurt over statues? Why Black people get so angry when police enforcement keeps killing them for no specific reason? You will not see, unless you are or have been in those shoes. You can understand, you can empathize, but you will never know what it’s like. So you have no right to tell me or anyone how they feel about something. Just because it does not upset you, does not mean it does not upset anyone else. So when people of color, like myself get offended by certain statues or certain stories by people there is a reason. It's the history behind it. It's the significance that others feel pain while others see freedom that is just not there.
So, does my life matter? Absolutely. Does yours? Absolutely. All lives matter. Each and every one of your life matters. But Black lives need the most help. I understand not every Black person needs help but at the same time not every Black person has the same privilege. Each of us has our own sense of privilege whether we think we do or we do not. That privilege is still there. We should not use that privilege to tear others apart. We use that privilege to help people. To protect people and shine the light on what they have to say. We come together as one. People are supposed to feel united, not threatened. It’s called “The United States” for a reason. Prove it.
“Florida teen Trayvon Martin is shot and killed.” History, 2013, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/florida-teen-trayvon-martin-is-shot-and-killed.
Foley, Ryan J. “Police guide that calls BLM a terrorist group draws outrage.” AP News, 2 December 2020, https://apnews.com/article/police-guide-calls-blm-terrorist-group-8dc0afce2ce6b60dbaa0d1d9c53ce1e3.
“How Statues Are Falling Around The World.” The New York Times, 24June 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/24/us/confederate-statues-photos.html.
Shahvisi, Arianne. “The philosophical flaw in saying “All Lives Matter." Prospect Magazine, 3 July 2020, https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/philosophy/black-lives-matter-essay-why-is-sayin g-all-lives-matter-wrong.
Suciu, Courtney. “How Do We Talk to Students About Racism?” ProQuest Blog, 9 September 2020, https://about.proquest.com/en/blog/2020/how-do-we-talk-to-students-about-racism/.