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Black. Lives. Matter

By Manahil Hassan, June 23 2020—

June 16, 1944 was the day George Stinney became the youngest person to be executed. 

His crime? There was none. 

Two young caucasian girls were found brutally murdered prior to Stinney and his older brother Johnnie’s arrest. The two young girls were beaten over the head with a railroad spike and dumped into a waterlogged ditch. 

Considering the murders, one would think the police would do everything in their power to bring justice to the two daughters, yet, George and Johnnie Stinney were arrested solely on an allegation. 

Both George and his younger sister were seen talking to the two girls before they went missing. This clearly did not warrant a conviction and 70 years later, George Stinney was exonerated. 

Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old boy playing in Cleveland park was shot to death by a police officer. 

His crime? There was none. 

A 911 call was made to officer Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. The individual calling these officers expressed concern that a “juvenile” was “pulling a gun in and out of his pants and pointing it at people.” Despite the caller stating they were doubtful regarding the gun being real, officer Loehmann murdered twelve-year-old Tamir Rice. 

The young boy was playing with a toy pellet gun. 

D’Andre Campbell was 26 years old when he was shot and murdered in Brampton, Ontario. 

His crime? There was none.

On April 7, 2020, D’Andre Campbell called the police for help during a mental health episode. Instead, he was brutally murdered. 

D’Andre Campbell, Tamir Rice and George Stinney were all Black. Their stories are more than just a few sentences put together. It is important to point out that these three individuals are not the only cases with hate crimes written all over them. There are countless instances of injustice where members of the Black community were harassed, assaulted or murdered due to their skin colour. 

Considering the recent protests regarding police brutality, systemic racism and monstrosities enacted upon Black communities, it is vital that we all become educated on the matter. Living in Canada, some tend to take the moral high ground, assuming we’re better, when in fact, we could not be more mistaken. The protests that erupted after the killing of George Floyd in Canada were not only in support of Black communities in the U.S. The protests were to recognize the racism that occurs all over the world and in Canada too. Recognizing this is when we become part of the solution and not the problem.  

I am not Black. I cannot pretend to know the extent to which Black people experience racism and discrimination. 

Despite this, I can still use my platforms to bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement. Quite often, when heinous acts occur, we tell ourselves that these issues and murders have nothing to do with us. We tell ourselves that it is okay to ignore these issues because what can one person do? That is wrong. Everyone has the power to make a change. In 2016, the Black Lives Matter movement blossomed and gained the momentum and power that it has today because of people. This movement was started on social media not by politicians or powerful individuals, but regular people. Soon people began to listen. 

It is not enough to just post a black square on Black Out Tuesday. It is not enough to just repost someone else’s content once regarding these issues and then stop. Activism is a consistent activity we must all engage in. 

Sign petitions, attend protests and donate to organizations which can help alleviate these issues. Why is it so hard for us to accept that racism is a real thing? Black communities all over the globe have experienced systemic racism since the dawn of time. Young children are being taught how to talk to the police when they are stopped. No child should ever have to worry about this issue. We must be the best allies that we can be and help Black communities obtain justice and equality. The root cause of racism is lodged deep into our societies and may take years to abolish. 

It is a constant effort so start by teaching your families about racism and tell them what is right and what is wrong. Start posting on your social media accounts and start following this movement closely. Start talking and discussing these issues and be prepared to use your privilege to bring light to this movement. 

Why is it that when people are suffering in front of our eyes, that we choose to look away? The Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum for a reason and we need to start to bring awareness to these issues. 

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.

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