Commentary: Riots shouldn’t overshadow the necessity of the BLM movement


Life Matters

People are currently using their voices to protest racial inequality amidst scrutiny of some violent demonstrations.

Racism is not new.

It did not end when slavery was abolished nor when Martin Luther King Jr. famously proclaimed his “I Have a Dream” speech. It did not disappear after the approval of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or after the Jim Crow Laws were repealed.

While these events were stepping stones towards racial equality for African Americans, these events alone were not enough to extinguish racism altogether.

Those events were not enough to save George Floyd from being suffocated under the knee of racism, or Breonna Taylor from being killed within her own home, or Elijiah McClain from being shot for simply walking home in his own neighborhood. 

Racism still exists because racism was never abolished. 

Yes, slavery was abolished and so was segregation; however, you can cut off the infected branches, but if you don’t remove the roots, the entire tree is still poisoned. Likewise, the systemic roots of racism in which our country has been founded upon is what allows racial disparities to still exist today.

Yes, slavery was abolished and so was segregation; however, you can cut off the infected branches, but if you don’t remove the roots, the entire tree is still poisoned.

— Sophia Harimoto

Following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, protests and riots have fervently popped up across the nation in efforts to demand for racial justice.

A substantial proponent of this cause includes the Black Lives Matter movement which was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Since then, the Black Lives Matter movement has continuously advocated against racially motivated violence and inequalities directed towards Black communities.

However, in light of the recent riots across the country, the fight for racial equality has been condemned for prompting greater violence.

While I do not directly support the violence incurred, I believe that it is unfair to judge a movement based upon its most violent demonstrators.

After all, focusing on the riots alone ignores the ultimate intention of the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole to seek national reform for the liberation of Black lives.

Instead of concentrating solely on the riots and looting, we should acknowledge the undeniable fact that Black lives have been disproportionately targeted for centuries, yet have been constantly silenced for speaking out against their oppressors.

While rioting may not elicit the change needed for absolute racial equality, nothing else has seemed to work. 

Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and later assassinated for protesting against the unequal treatment of Black Americans. More recently, Colin Kaepernick caused national commotion just by kneeling during the National Anthem.

The issue at hand is not the form of protest but rather the refusal to acknowledge and address the underlying motives for these protests.

Racism still exists not because people refuse to believe that it does, but because those who recognize that racism is a problem within our country are more concerned about the method of protest than the issue being fought against.