When Do Our Lives Matter?

Gisselle Villagracia
Human Rights Blogger
One Nation, Two Worlds

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Baton Rouge shooting of Alton Sterling, a 37 year old black man, who was shot to death after an altercation with the police. The video of the incident quickly circulated where Sterling, unarmed and was wrongfully shot multiple times. This sparked a frenzy of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality as this case, along with thousands of other mistreated African-Americans, has gone too far and things need to change.

This movement is not to favour one race over the other, but to express the ongoing issue of the African-American community being targeted moreover others in order to equalize all races. President Obama delivered a powerful speech in regards to this, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmXwAMQ8P24

That being said, the Aboriginal community has also experienced this same frustration with many missing and murdered Aboriginal women going unsolved. As of 2010, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) researched as many cases as possible, about 582, but that doesn’t even begin to cover them all. Rarely are missing aboriginal women recorded making it difficult to find the accurate numbers and answers to their disappearance. The neglect to properly investigate these circumstances leaves families in despair, affecting over 400 Aboriginal children left motherless. Sterling was also a father to five children and you can see the agony in Cameron Sterling, his 15 year old son, as he broke down during a news conference while his mother spoke. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urLybnPRLcI)

It’s not just police brutality that’s a problem, it’s in everyday life. Could you walk into a store without immediately being assumed you’ll steal something? Ever been told to quit school now because you’ll eventually fail and end up on the streets, or just been ignored by society as if you didn’t exist? Whether people say it or not, history has caused us to unconsciously make these presumptions about people based on their racial background alone.

In 2007, Cindy Blackstock executive director of the First Nations and Family Caring Society, recognized that child welfare funding for children living on reserves, who would benefit from it the most, were much less than those given to children off reserves. This resulted in the fight to change these measures by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in February 2007. Blackstock states that although this dispute was a success for children everywhere, it is still unfortunate that it ever had to occur. The Black Lives Matter movement is a reminder that people are continuously being mistreated merely for the colour of their skin.

Race should not define how you should be treated. As Bell Hooks says “There is no life to be found in violence. Every act of violence brings us closer to death.”

Thumbnail photo from: https://champagnecartel.com/how-do-we-stoptheviolence/

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