On the 23rd August, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by the police. This sparked protests across the US state of Wisconsin and further afield as people came to terms with this brutal act of violence.
It was only after the harrowing video of his shooting went viral, that the world slowly started to wake up to the continual realities of policies brutalities towards black communities. The Black Lives Matter movement was reignited, following a lull after months of protests worldwide against George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
So why has it taken yet another case of police brutality that ultimately could’ve been prevented?
As we head towards the end of his 2020 US electoral campaign, Donald Trump’s law and order rhetoric is increasingly heating up. “I am your president of Law and Order”, Trump proclaimed back in June – at that same moment, his federal agents violently cleared peaceful protestors from a park near the Whitehouse.
He wants to be seen as the law enforcement President, willing to take any steps necessary against what he sees as the anarchy of many Black Lives Matter protests.
Real substantive change in policies for minority rights is practically impossible as Trump seeks to enhance police power
This means whilst he’s still in power, real substantive change in policies for minority rights is practically impossible as Trump seeks to enhance police power – the opposite aim to many black protestors in the US.
This difficultly in pursuing any policies to implement changes in citizens’ rights therefore leaves many feeling very deflated, resulting in difficulties to keep up the momentum of protests when people feel like nothing is being achieved.
In the UK, there is a similar sense of frustration as young people especially feel that the government isn’t taken their concerns seriously enough, and rather than there just being sound bites of outrage against injustice, real substantive policies still need to be implemented.
In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, there was a social media frenzy against the actions police as posts of solidarity sprung up everywhere
One UK protestor said at a recent demonstration, “It just feels like we aren’t being heard and we aren’t being taken seriously”. UK policy demands for racial justice include substantive reforms to the educational curriculum to celebrate diversity, an end to racial health disparities, as well as the removal of the police stop and search system which disproportionally targets black communities.
Those who aren’t as actively involved in the Black Lives Matter protests, but support the sentiment behind it, are also part of the reason why the movement doesn’t have the full force that it needs at the current time.
In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, there was a social media frenzy against the actions of police as posts of solidarity, such as the Instagram ‘Black Out Tuesday’ image, sprung up everywhere, demanding justice and equality for black people.
What the latest shooting of Jacob Blake demonstrates is the power of viral videos and how it’s only at certain moments when a conversation is provoked on social media. Police abuse is happening every day, not just in the US but within our own communities, but crucially it isn’t always seen.
Yet, for those who have been on the front line of the movement and had to face these racial hardships day-on-day, this wasn’t news or some ‘social media’ trend to them.
Rather than the Black Lives Matter movement being treated as some trend people follow in order to seem ‘woke’, it has to morph into so much more than that, intertwined into our beliefs, conversations and what information we consume, as well as the ideas we choose to accept.
It can’t simply be a ‘trend’ that comes and goes as that won’t sustain the momentum that is needed to drive about change.
It is the small interactions and layers of ‘invisible’ discrimination that people also need to consider, as this can cause the most mental damage
Whilst some of the more high-profile Black Lives Matter cases help to provoke outrage across a wider audience of people who are more willing to listen, it is the small injustices that we must focus on.
It is the small interactions and layers of ‘invisible’ discrimination that people also need to consider, as this can cause the most mental damage.
This is something that we are all living with as it’s so intertwined in society and is only when we start to pick this apart that the Black Lives Matter movement will be close to achieving some of it’s aims.
Jacob Blake’s shooting should serve as a harsh reminder that racial injustice is nowhere near being solved and certain sectors of society still weild a huge amount of power which is preventing this.
Yet, there are steps we still must take as to not make this just another viral hit. The conversation must keep going.
Featured image courtesy of Koshu Kunii via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.
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