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Black Lives Matter

In: Social Issues

Submitted By kayfraz
Words 1539
Pages 7
Whom Do We Stand By? African Americans have felt discriminated over many centuries starting with slavery. They have experienced segregation and unethical treatment from people around them. Race and racism, two highly talked about topics, are never completely out of the news. The most controversial topic recently is related to the many blacks that have been shot by police officers, which have led to death or serious injures. This has happened numerous times across the United States. I do believe that African Americans deserve to be treated equally and the police officers taking part in these acts need to be held responsible for their actions. One of the first recorded incidents of racial discrimination towards African Americans was the action of slavery. Slaves were forced to work against their free will. Even though slave life depended on the slave holder, all conditions were not tolerable for a human being. Life as a slave meant working sunup to sundown six days a week, having food sometimes not suitable for an animal to eat, and living in a shack with dirt floor (“Slave Life”). This all took place while the slave holders enjoyed cracking the whip. After slavery took place for a long period of time, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 (Balser). The proclamation declared that “all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free (Balser). As you can imagine, African Americans felt a feeling beyond anything else they had felt before and that was simply the feeling of being free. One would think that equality would have been present at this time, but that isn’t the type of society we live in. Nearly 500 years later, discrimination was still present in the lives of African Americans in the 1960’s. Instead of being strictly under the control of one specific person, such as a slave holder, blacks were looked down upon by their peers no matter where they were. Jim Crow laws were now present. Jim Crow laws were state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the Southern United States from the 1880s up until 1965 (Pilgrim). Blacks were forced to drink out of separate water fountains, go to different schools, and basically live an overall separate life from whites. This brought forth the Civil Rights Movement. This is a campaign for African American’s rights. All blacks were fed up with how they were being treated and decided to do something about it. To start with, Rosa Parks took a stand by not sitting in the back of a bus and started a boycott. Martin Luther King Jr. was chosen to lead their protest. On August 28, 1963, Martin gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Washington Monument and surprised the nation (“Johnson”). The following year, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act which would no longer allow discrimination based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religions beliefs, or sex (“Johnson”). After this, black discrimination went partially under the radar. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely did not completely go away. I have been giving you the basic background of what African Americans have been going through over the years. Today, we see protests happening all over the nation. People holding up signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and other racial statements. This is all happening because of recent incidents. The article “Line of Fire”, written by David Von Drehle, is a perfect example of discrimination going on today in society toward African Americans. It describes an act of violence that took place in North Charleston, South Carolina. Michael Slager, a city police officer, came upon a car whose tail light on their vehicle wasn’t working correctly. He pulled the vehicle over and approached it like he had many times before. The driver was a 50 year old man named Walter Scott. A normal traffic stop turned into a shoot out. Slater open fired eight times on Scott, who was unarmed. If it weren’t for an onlooker, we still may not have known what went on that day. The video makes it clear that the police officer was not in danger and wrongfully killed an innocent man, who just so happened to be African American. Slager isn’t the only police officer at fault for something like this. According to the article “Police killed more than 100 unarmed black people in 2015”, there were nearly 102 cases where police officers had killed unarmed blacks. That breaks down to nearly two incidents a week. The article also states that unarmed African Americans were killed at 5x the rate of unarmed whites in the year of 2015 (“Police Killed”). The most sickening fact found is that only 9 out of the 102 cases resulted in officers being charged for their actions upon blacks (“Police Killed”). We also have to consider the circumstances and situations, but that leaves 93 killers out on our streets. Killers that are supposed to protect and serve our country. As I was reading both articles I felt sick to my stomach. Law enforcement is supposed to make you feel safe. Not every cop would act the way that some of these officers did, but how are we supposed to know which ones would? This incident has caused other blacks and whites to question our officers. We often seem to jump to a conclusion and think that every officer acts the same way, which is a stereotype. It is just mind blowing that most of the officers that took part in those violent events have gotten away with their actions. Luckily, Michael Slager was charged with manslaughter, thanks to the video that proved the violence (Von Drehle). Over all of these years, African Americans have had to try to continuously prove themselves and demand justice for their race. Skin color should be the least of our worries today in this world. Every single life matters and has meaning. It is time that everyone realizes that and we stand up for those going through these times. People need to be held accountable for their actions before our country gets out of control, because at this rate it won’t be long.

Annotated Works Cited
Balser, Roy P. "Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation." Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln Online, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2016. Roy Balser wrote this article to give information on Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation. We learn that Lincoln is against slavery and he does what he can in order to stop it from taking place. This article helped me conclude my first main topic paragraph on slavery, since the Emancipation Proclamation was the deciding factor.

"Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2016. This article from History.com talks about events leading up to when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act along with how life was for African Americans after the signing. I was able to use this article to help show the before and after affect on the lives of blacks. When Johnson signed this law, African American lives were completely changed and this article helped me show that.

Pilgrim, David, Dr. "What Was Jim Crow." ferris.edu. Jim Crow Museum: Origins of Jim Crow. Sept. 2000. Web. 12 Mar. 2016. Dr. David Pilgrim wrote the article “What Was Jim Crow” in order to help educate readers on what Jim Crow Laws were. He explained the harsh environment that African Americans were in because of these laws. I am using this article to show the readers the conditions that blacks were in after slavery up until the Civil Rights Movement.

"Police Killed More than 100 Unarmed Black People in 2015." Mapping Police Violence. n.p. Web. 12 Mar. 2016. This article is from Mapping Police Violence and it brings forth data related to deaths of unarmed African Americans in the year of 2015. It also talks about the number of police officers held accountable for their actions. The article also compares the deaths of unarmed blacks vs the deaths of unarmed whites. I am using this article in my paper to prove my point that officers aren’t being charged for doing something unethical to a human being.

"Slave Life and Slave Codes." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2016. This article was written to help readers understand the type of lives that slaves lived. It went into detail about the food they were given, their living conditions, and how they were mistreated by their slave holders. I was able to use this article to help explain how slaves were mistreated during the time of “slavery”. I was able to give specific examples thanks to the article.

Von Drehle, David. “Line of Fire.” TIME 09 April 2015. Print. David Von Drehle wrote the article “Line of Fire” to educate us on an incident that took place in South Carolina. An incident that took the life of an innocent, unarmed African American. The article informs us that the police officer was held responsible for his actions. I am using this article to give proof of an incident where blacks are mistreated by police officers.…...

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