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Let us be our brother’s keeper

Black+Lives+Matter.+Let+us+be+our+brother%27s+keeper.+Photo+taken+by+Alyssa+Gutierrez.
Black Lives Matter. Let us be our brother's keeper. Photo taken by Alyssa Gutierrez.

Black Lives Matter. Let us be our brother's keeper. Photo taken by Alyssa Gutierrez.

Black Lives Matter. Let us be our brother's keeper. Photo taken by Alyssa Gutierrez.

Alan Islas Malanco, Staff Reporter

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I think it’s safe to say that most of us consider the act of taking a human life not only deplorable but inexcusable. It does not matter who you are, where you come from or what you believe in, death is a very serious thing, especially when a life is taken by actions that come from violence.

I’m not here to talk about what happened at the Black Lives Matter protests in Charlotte.

However, one thing I will talk about is values. Personally, I value human life. As a people, we must recognize that there is a problem with the number of African-American deaths that have occurred recently. We must not only try to solve this problem but truly understand why people protest and the impact that the killings have had on the African-American community.

Several Providence students chose to attend the protests in uptown Charlotte organized by the Black Lives Matter movement on September 26. Some went as supporters and participated in the protesting, while others chose to remain on the sidelines and, as spectators, see what was really happening at the protest.

One of the biggest concerns of the general public is how violent the protesting of African-American deaths can become. There is no denying that local businesses were vandalized, highways were blocked, trucks were set on fire and a man was killed. At the same time, it is not fair to judge an entire group or race because of the actions of a few select individuals or the sensationalized footage that might be captured for the purpose of increased ratings rather than to genuinely inform the public.

Senior Alyssa Gutierrez decided to attend the protest in order to take pictures and record such an important local event.

“When I was there I saw a lot of the news reporters carrying around their giant cameras and their microphones,” Gutierrez says. “While most of the things were peaceful, the news reporters kind of just followed around the ‘crazy people’ who were yelling, so it did not really capture a representative population of it.”

Gutierrez noted that, for the most part, the protesters were gathered peacefully listening to several speeches and even a church choir gathered around in order to sing a hymn. “The group that I followed around – their main chant was ‘I am my brother’s keeper.’”

As either a viewer or a news organization, it can be hard not to focus on the scandals and the violence, but it’s important to remember that in an event, especially a protest, a few extremists don’t represent the entire movement.

According to the students that attended the protest, it was overall peaceful, unlike the few instances that some media organizations emphasized.

“It was different from what I saw on the media because it was peaceful and respectful,” freshman Micah Morton-James said. “I heard prayers, I heard things about Keith Lamont Scott and his family. I heard about what really happened. Everyone was there, not just black people but white people, Hispanic, all people.”

While many fear the violence that can develop at such protests, and some employees are advised to work from home, the few instances of violence do not define the entire setting of the protest. True, there were trucks on fire and vandalized stores, but there were also people holding up signs peacefully.

“The environment was friendly. I went alone, and I’m a small person, but I did not feel insecure. I felt pretty safe,” Gutierrez said. “It was more about spreading love and not hate. One of the big aspects of it was not to say ‘we hate white people’; it was more like ‘love everyone’. ”

The recent Black Lives Matter protests have shed more light on racism and its existence in the United States to this day. Our society has moved away from the times when racism was so prevalent that there were laws that targeted specific ethnic groups. However, there are still many people with racist ideologies today.

Statements made by the Black Lives Matter movement have been misconstrued into the ideology that no other lives matter since the name is ‘Black Lives Matter’, when that is not the movement’s purpose. According to the Black Lives Matter website the purpose of the movement is, “an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

All races can suffer from violence and discrimination. However, because of the past inhumane actions that African-Americans suffered, including violence and racial profiling, we need to pay more attention towards the issues that surround the African-American community today, including police brutality.

Everyone deserves the same amount of equal and fair protection. When one group is not receiving it, it needs to be addressed.

Let’s think about it this way: if a house was burning in a neighborhood, would you spray water on all the houses? Or just the one in danger and need of assistance?

There are ways to solve the issue of the movement’s misinterpretation. “I think it could have been avoided by a simple name change reflecting a more inclusive ideology like ‘Black Lives Matter Too,’” senior Devin Lynch said.

Even then, there are ways to stay neutral and at the same time recognize that there is a problem.

“There’s a lot of controversy regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and the All Lives Matter movement,” Gutierrez said. “I’m not partaking in any specific side. I believe that all lives: white, black, Asian, etc. matter. But racism is still prominent in the U.S. We live in North Carolina, and it’s very prevalent here.”

Coming from this controversy, a new movement known as All Lives Matter has begun. Could the conflict between the counter movement and the original one have just deepened the gap between races?

“I do think that there’s an issue with a disproportionate number of police shootings against black people,” Lynch said, “but I think the movement itself has become more divisive than it has helpful. ‘All lives matter,’ I feel it’s more of a counter to try to make the Black Lives Matter movement sound like it’s not very legitimate.”

Every human life matters, but there is still a problem in the United States involving the racial profiling that leads to the deaths of African-Americans. No one’s saying that white or Asian or Hispanic lives don’t matter, but that as a society we need to end racial profiling and police violence specifically targeted against African-Americans.

I could not have said it better than Morton-James when he said, “All lives matter when black lives matter.”

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