Silenced No More
Artifact #1: “Daddy Changed the World”
Artifact #2: Show of Solidarity
Artifact #3: Beheaded Boston Christopher Columbus Statue
Leah Gorham, Student, Fitchburg State University
The Black Lives Matter movement has been a popular topic worldwide in the past year of 2020 as well as this year, and I hope it continues to be talked about for an exceptionally long time. Although the Black Lives Matter movement was known even before 2020, it has grown in everyone’s attention starting mainly with George Floyd's tragic death that occurred on May 25th, 2020. Almost exactly one year later, and the tragic happening is still being talked about, as well as protested for. The three artifacts that I wrote about include images that portray new cultural heritage related to the topic of Black Lives Matter. Each artifact relates to a specific topic that brings attention to the cause and the effects of racism and discrimination as well as police brutality.
The first artifact that I wrote about relates to George Floyd's death and the known quote “Daddy changed the world” said by his daughter Gianna Floyd. This quote is important because she had to see what happened to her dad, and instead of focusing on the bad side of it, she turned to the symbolism of it all and saw how it made a huge impact on the world. I genuinely agree with Gianna’s words of her dad changing the world because, after his death, several protests and vigils were organized. As stated by an activist, Carrie Mays, “Change […] needs to begin when we uplift the voices of young people of color” (Laucharoen). The second artifact is about a protest that happened soon after the event, and how it sparked nationwide protests around the world. These protests happened throughout the weeks and months after Floyd's death. This protest took place just one town over from where I grew up. Hopedale, Massachusetts is a small town, so the fact that hundreds of people showed up shows how important these protests were to people. It made me feel like a proud citizen of the United States when I found out that “about 15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and others in recent weeks, […] These figures would make the recent protests the largest movement in the country’s history” (Buchanan et. al.). My last artifact is about an effect from these protests and what happened because of the movement. This was when historical landmarks, specifically statues of Christopher Columbus, were destroyed. As stated by Theresa Machemer, “protesters in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Virginia have targeted statues of Christopher Columbus, damaging or pulling down three in a matter of days." Charlie Duffield states that “the Italian explorer is responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas," as well as that Christopher Columbus “was a murderer of indigenous people, mainstreaming the genocidal culture against indigenous people." By tearing off Christopher Columbus’s head, people will want to know why and learn what he did. Standing up to racist people is a big part of the movement, so if that means making a change to previous history landmarks that are honoring racism, then so be it. The Black Lives Matter movement has been broadcasted all around the world, and the situation of the statues being torn down, I think, has been an eye-opening ordeal to many people. I had not known about Columbus and his racist past and what he had done to Indigenous people. I think bringing attention to who he was and tearing his head off the statue will help to publicize this new idea of him, as well as what I believe is a step in the right direction of creating a positive change in the world.
By writing about these three artifacts, I was able to express an important belief of mine, as well as bring attention to an important issue that needs to be fixed in order to unite the people of the United States and other countries, about the struggle swith racism, discrimination, and police brutality. These artifacts also help to expand on historical cultural heritage by allowing others to learn about past history of how African-Americans were wrongfully treated and, sadly, still treated today. The new knowledge will allow new generations and may even allow for older generations to learn and see racism differently than they have been before. It will also teach right from wrong, which helps younger kids grow up knowing and standing up to the wrong doings. This essay shows the importance of creating a solution to the problem of racism, discrimination, and police brutality, as well as correcting this brutal problem that people of color unfortunately continue to deal with every day. Bringing attention to the topic and expanding my education as well as other people's education will allow me to help out as much as I can with this movement, and I hope will make other individuals just as aware and want to make the change as well. There is often a lot of controversy that comes with the topics of racism, discrimination, and police brutality, but educating myself will just make me want to stand up to the problem that much more.
As a white person, I know that I will never understand, however, I stand. This one-line quotation was written on several signs and posters in the protests. This quotation resonates with me because I am white and do not struggle with what other minorities struggle with every day. I am so fortunate, and I want to use my white privilege that I have to make a better difference in this world. After the protests started, and after attending one of them, I saw how important this movement was to everyone, and how significant it was to those that deal with racism and discrimination as well as police brutality. Many people do not believe that white privilege is a thing, and instead they think that it does not exist. To the white people who believe that white privilege is not real and that we do not have it as a race, I say that white privilege does not mean your life has not been hard. It just means that the color of our skin has not made it difficult for us to live. White privilege is not the suggestion that white people have never struggled or that everything we have accomplished is unearned. Instead, white privilege should be viewed as a built-in advantage, separate from one's level of income or effort. My main point of this is that white people should understand that we do have privilege, but we can use it to our advantage to help minority races, specifically those who are African-American. Being aware of it and educating ourselves on the situation at hand will be a start of creating a better change in the world.
Overall, I think that Black Lives Matter is an inspiring movement that has inspired millions of people throughout the world. People who support the movement all want one thing as stated by a protestor from the Hopedale protest that took place: “We’re all here for the same reason…it’s not politics. Its human rights” (Bosma). I hope that people realize that every human, no matter what race, color, or how they look, are all the same on the inside. The racism and discrimination have been carrying on for to long now. Police brutality is not helping the situation either because it is becoming to the point where civilians of each community have trouble trusting their own police enforcement. These police officers should be here to protect everyone, not just white people. A statement that makes clear of my thoughts with this situation is that “International human rights law strictly prohibits all forms of discrimination. No one should be treated differently by law enforcement because of their race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, religion, or belief, political or other opinion, ethnicity, national or social origin, disability, or other status. Everyone has the right to equal treatment under the law” (Amnesty, par. 8).
The most important thing to me is that all people in this world are treated equally with respect. Although racism, discrimination, and police brutality may unfortunately never officially end, people standing up to this issue will help create a positive change in this world. This includes white people noticing and understanding their privilege, people educating themselves on the topic of racism, and individuals standing up to someone and for someone if they see or hear anything racist being said. Racism, discrimination, and police brutality are not okay and need to be put to an end. By mankind standing up to these three matters, as well as other problems in the world, our world will become a better place when we are united together.
Bosma, Alison. “Show of solidarity.” Milford Daily News, 4 June 2020, https://www.milforddailynews.com/story/news/local/2020/06/04/hundreds-march-for-justice-in-hopedale/42437473/.
Buchanan, Larry, et. al. “Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History.” The New York Times, 3 July 2020, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/03/us/george-floyd-protests-crowd-size.html.
Duffield, Charlie. “Here's Why Statues of Christopher Columbus Are Being Pulled Down.” Inews, 12 July 2020, https://inews.co.uk/news/christopher-columbus-racist-statues-pulled-down-us-prorests-explorer-443647.
Laucharoen, Shira. “Youth Organizers Experiences Tear Gas, Solidarity on Front Lines of Protest.” Dig Bos, 11 June 2020, https://digboston.com/youth-organizers-experience-tear-gas-solidarity-on-front-lines-of-protests/.
Machemer, Theresa. “Christopher Columbus Statues Beheaded, Pulled Down Across America.” Smithsonian Magazine, 12 June 2020, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/christopher-columbus-statues-beheaded-torn-down-180975079/.
“What Is Police Brutality?” Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/police-brutality/.