Letter to the Editor: Black Lives Matter

Jacob Wilson

Two hundred-fifty-eight African Americans killed by police in 2016, 39 percent unarmed, nine died in custody and the majority fatally shot. Thirty-four percent of the unarmed people killed that year were black males, only six percent of the total U.S. population, according to information provided by the Huffington Post and the Guardian, who tracks police killings in America.

This country needs to recognize the racial injustices that are happening in our nation and get together to come up with a long-term solution, particularly school funding reform.

You cannot overlook Black Lives Matter whenever you think of race relations and law enforcement today. We have seen this group arise in recent times with the murder of Trayvon Martin and the issue in Ferguson. A video posted by the “LA activist,” a group supporting BLM, shows responses to a NRA video, which they say incites violence against African Americans. They include that the NRA is basically raising a generation who thinks it is okay and are desensitized to the mass shootings we have seen recently.

There are two sides to this issue. First, there are those who do not believe anything is happening with race and law enforcement, usually the supporters of “all lives matter.” On the flip side are those who are strongly in support for some fundamental changes in the system, so African Americans can feel comfortable and accepted in society.

A recent NPR article begs the question, “is there a war on police?” This article came out after a cop in Houston was shot and killed by an African American male. This article goes on to give data of the last 40 years, and shows that the percentage of cops being killed feloniously has dropped by about 10-20 cops every 10 years. This is down from 100 cops killed in 1970 to only 50 killed in 2015, as shown by the graph.

Daunasia Yancey, a Black Lives Matter leader, was quoted in the article as saying, “I think this ‘war on cops’ rhetoric is just another way to protect police from accountability.”

She went on to say that “all lives matter” is just another way to oppose Black Lives Matter. What Black Lives Matter stands for is apparent from their mission statement on their website.

“Our mission is to bring forth the plans and solutions that take us from the dream to the physical manifestation of our excellent and complete potential. We are working for a world where black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise,” Yancey said in the article. “We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

Another point that correlates to this topic is mass incarnation, Harvard has a great peer reviewed journal on “racialized mass incarceration,” and they show that African Americans are only 12 percent of the population, but they account for 39 percent of the prison population. On the flip side, white males are 65 percent of the population and only 36 percent of the prison population. Something here is going wrong and it needs to be corrected at a young age.

I had a project last semester on affirmative action, and a man I talked with, who works at the MLK center at the University Of Kentucky, made a great point. We need to change the school system and get people in areas of greater financial need better education and not let the wealthier schools get all the funding. We should also equally spread out the education budget to each school, no matter what zone they may be in.

People may think in America that we all have the same chance of “making it,” but this is not true when we leave an entire race behind in economic status, careers and cultural acceptance. We are sucked into the facade of capitalism and equality, but we are an extremely selfish society.

People struggle with things that are not easily seen, such as depression or anxiety, and people widely accept this as a fact and actively seek ways to help them. If we recognize problems not easily seen why can’t we notice this problem that is, and has been, terrorizing our country for centuries. It is time to say enough, and stand up to fix this problem that has turned into a partisan issue when it is something much more, a humanitarian issue.

UK does an amazing job around campus of integrating activities and events with students and faculty. I always find myself walking to class and seeing endless ethnicities. You know you are more than somebody writing a check at UK, you are family. UK students should care about the issue of Black Lives Matter because this is an issue we can fix as the next generation. We have the ability to end this problem now. No matter of your race, religion, sex or creed, we can learn to love each other as human beings. It takes one generation to end this injustice that has happened for years on end and it’s in our hands.

I hope you read this and spread the word of equality, not only around campus, but around the community. It has to start somewhere and UK students and faculty can take the initiative by spreading love and positivity.

This nation still has a race problem, and until we fix this problem at a young age, I think it will continue to haunt us. What is happening is wrong and can no longer be ignored. We need to change the school funding system nationwide and enforce affirmative action with more conviction. If we ignore this problem, we won’t have buried Jim Crow laws, but rather systematically transformed them into a new monster and the African American community will continue to suffer, just as will mothers who will have their children’s life taken by a police officer.

Thank you for your time.

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