By: Naysha Z. Padró Marrero – Journalism student at University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras
“No justice, no peace” was shouted during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that took the leading role at the protests that started on May 26, 2020, in Minneapolis after a Black man was brutally murdered by a local police officer. The man was identified as George Floyd, and his death is one of many black lives that have been lost because of racism and police brutality. The black community has experienced racism throughout the decades. However, society thinks that racism disappeared ages ago, but they are wrong, since a different racism stroke. Racism supported by the system and disguised with the rights that are written on paper but have been ignored ever since. Systemic racism took over and seems like every person was living in privilege except the black community. For instance, usually schools were white students predominate tend to offer better teachers, extracurricular activities, tutors, and assistance for students. However, schools in black communities tend to receive fewer funds, and consequently, they do not receive the same benefits that students in white communities get. This type of racism is developed throughout the different public and private institutions in the country. Privileged citizens prefer to ignore the fact that racism exists than acknowledging their privilege. Therefore, society needs to understand what white privilege means to start a conversation on how to use it to benefit the black community.
White privilege does not mean that as a human being you have not faced challenges, what it means is that those challenges had nothing to do with the color of your skin. This privilege involves having more opportunities than black communities because systemic racism has embraced a distinction and preference between white and black people. However, acknowledging white privilege is not negative if the person is willing to weaponize that privilege against the oppressors of the black community. Overt white privilege goes back to the 1950s during segregation. Public spaces such as restrooms, water fountains, and bus seats were divided since black people were not allowed to use designated spaces for white people. Even before segregation, white supremacy ruled just like nowadays; education is key to overcome systemic racism. The educational system does not emphasize historical movements for the black community since History classes are mainly whitewashed. Nevertheless, this generation has been a huge influence in the Black Lives Matter movement since the death of Trayvon Martin. The streets have been filled with strong and determined ideas mainly served by young adults who stand with the black community and other groups such as the LGBTQ+, Latins, and immigrants. The generation that is taking over the streets has the strength to fight with facts and expose racists any time in social media. These platforms have become vital during this historical moment since it gives the user the chance to unmask racist people and Police brutality. If it were not for the videos filmed by citizens probably none of this abuse would be publicly known. Consequently, this generation is not “sensitive’ like online trolls say, this generation is filled with empowerment for minorities. Minorities that the government has created with its systemic racism evolving since the “end of slavery”. Online platforms give citizens the opportunity to spread awareness, sign petitions, and educate people on how to use their white privilege for good.
The Latin community such as Puerto Ricans play a significant part in history since they were colonized by the United States in 1898. Before their invasion, Puerto Rico was under the Spaniard order who enslaved the Natives Taínos and Africans. Eventually, Puerto Ricans became triracial, which means that their culture and race are a mixture of Spaniards, Native Taínos, and Africans. The vocabulary that Puerto Ricans use is highly influenced by their African ancestry. Also, their cultural dance called “Bomba y Plena” came from Africans that were enslaved by Spaniards. It is relevant to point out a historical Latin context because this affects the Puerto Rican black community. They may not have experienced Police brutality in the United States, but they have experienced racism on their own island. The Black Lives Matter cause is a movement that everyone should be supporting especially every Latino such as Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexican, and the rest of the Latin community. They have all been oppressed by the system, and their African ancestry connects them with the movement that the Black community has created. Any act of racism is undoubtedly inhumane, and every racist should be exposed. This generation has the power to seek change and demand that their human rights are respected, regardless of your skin color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and gender. Black lives matter, black lives deserve benefits and deserve to walk freely without having to worry about their safety. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Derrick Scott, Eric Harris, and others that remain unknown deserve justice, and if justice is not served this generation will seek it.