Samiha: What are some misconceptions that are tied to Black Lives Matter?
Lydia: Definitely that some people think the movement is about only black lives mattering, or that white lives don’t matter, or that all lives don’t matter. This is a big misconception because that’s not at all what supporters of the movement are saying. Supports are trying to raise awareness for black lives that have been oppressed for so long.
Maia: It is comparable to feminism and the fact that people think that feminists want women to be superior to men because men have been superior for so long. But really it’s just all about being equal. One of our races has never been equal, in the U.S and globally but mainly in the U.S. We’ve always had a messed up system and so what we want to do is not only make the system change and raise awareness but we want to acknowledge the past and realize that our whole government was built on a racist system. The only way we can make this an equal and just nation is by rebuilding our system on an anti-racist route. Some people don’t understand that.
Samiha: It’s just about stating that Black Lives Matter, and seeking equity and justice. No one is saying that one race is superior to the other. It literally goes against the movement.
Maia: I also feel like the protests helped bring controversy with that because we were fighting with the protests. I believe only 7% of the protest turned violent. The looting happened at the beginning, so the start was very intense. The only thing that got aired was the looting and violence. This gave a really bad rep to the moment and what it stands for. People got this notion of Black Lives Matter being a movement of violence, not equality.
Samiha: That ties in with the question of how does the media cover these things? Yes, it only does show the more violent side, but in reality, it’s the minority. Around 93% of protests are peaceful, but that’s not what’s seen on mass media.
Sam: I am in full support of whatever needs to be done being done. That being said, I think a lot of the violence at the protests causes many people who were on the fence to care more about how they’re protesting and not why they’re protesting. It’s something that I’ve always thought about. Of course, we should do whatever it takes and that’s short of nothing. Sometimes something happens and I’m like “Ooh that’s going to paint a bad light,” even if it shouldn’t. If everyone was just as educated as they should be, they should care enough that a Target being out of service is the least of their worries. When those kinds of things happen, it’s all the media cares to cover. But here’s a question, do the violent protests do more good than harm?
Lydia: Yeah, if we want systemic change to happen, we need to have everyone on board. Like what Sam was saying, some so many people are on the fence, and if they see one riot or violent images of Targets burning and broken shop windows, they’re going to assume “Oh this is this insane, violent radical leftist movement that we can’t support because all they do is cause harm,” even if they weren’t racist.
Maia: Would you say you’re against or for the violent protests? What are your opinions on it?
Sam: Personally, I would say that if everyone understood what was going on, then we wouldn’t need it. If everyone was open-minded, they would understand the rioting, especially the ones that happened right after George Floyd’s death that was due to everyone being mad, and I get that, I was mad too. But one thing is I am against hurting anyone and if you’re going to loot or burn, it should be big businesses not small local businesses for a couple of reasons. One, local businesses might not recover from that. Local businesses are also statistically proven to help out people of color because there’s less discrimination against workers. Alongside that, local businesses don’t exploit immigrants as much as they are mostly family-owned businesses. Of course, there are some racist ones, but a lot of them aren’t and it’s a big part of how people of color get jobs. So I am very against harming small businesses. But the Target that got burned down in Minneapolis happened for a reason. Even then I am on the fence because things like this will be inflated by the news-times a lot. It’s an important thing to consider is all I am saying.
Lydia: I just think if everybody was on the same page, and was like “Yeah I understand why they’re doing this,” it would be better. In the beginning, it all happened to raise more awareness and attention. But if we’re not all on the same page, there will be a lot of people out there that will see that without enough background information and be like “Oh my god, this is horrible, we can’t do this.”
Maia: Yeah, with the protests, I really liked Trevor Noah’s opinions from The Daily Show and he talked about looting and as a guy from South Africa, I could really see his opinion very clearly. His opinion is very valid for the whole thing. He was saying that the reason that the looting was happening was that we have been living in a corrupt system and the only way to get the attention of those in that system is by breaking the rules. If a black man or woman can be shot and killed and it was ‘justified,’ then why should the rules of not being able to loot be followed. It also became a thing of morals. Like if you get in an argument with somebody, would you end up punching that person or would you just talk it out and walk away if it gets too heated. Those little things that we have in our head and that we were raised on don’t apply when it comes to a black life. Like if a white racist was in an argument with a black person, they would go to an extreme because those morals would no longer apply. The rage of the rioters is a way to show how it feels to be in their shoes. The looting was not only a protest but a representation of how corrupt our system is, and as a white person, I can’t say if I am for or against it. Well, I can, but I’ve never experienced how corrupt the system is so it isn’t valid.
Lydia: Yeah, I definitely agree with that.
Samiha: Another thing is that when people were peaceful, a lot of people weren’t aware or down to hear anyone out. When people amped up the level of their reactions, we saw an increase in awareness. Besides, in history rioting has been proven to work in order to push for change. Riot portrays the anger that comes from witnessing injustice and of those who are impacted by corrupted systems. Also, I feel like a lot of people are angrier about the riots but not the reason FOR those riots. Riots are happening because of this corrupt system, but some people just talk about the riots and not the root of the problem. Can people start talking about the actual reason instead?
Maia: Pop off! I like that opinion. That was a good question. But of course, just talking about the original question which was talking about how the media always covers the negative side of it. Oddly, I can wrap up my opinion with what Tyler the Creator said. He says that if you go onto the news, you’re always going to see “Oh! A dog bit somebody. Or Oh! A dog hurt somebody,” so every single time you see a dog you’ll think of what you’ve seen of that dog and you’re gonna have negative connotations with the dog. That’s what has been happening to black people. You have to consider are people actually racist or is that the only thing that they have actually seen of people. So do people really not support Black Lives Matter or is it that the only thing that they have seen of the movement is the negative aspects. I got in an argument with somebody the other day and they were saying “I do not support BLM, I think it’s stupid and I hate it,” and I am like “Okay so what do you not support,” and they said “Well the looting is taking away from small businesses,” but only 7% of all of it actually goes violent. It really isn’t usually negative. They didn’t know that. You have to understand that most people actually have good morals, it’s just that they have only been exposed to the bad side of things. So do people really not think black lives matter or is it just the media that’s been so messed up over the years? We should start by changing the media and I think that’s what the movement has turned into. A change in the media and an increase in education about the corrupt system.
Lydia: Yeah, and I think that especially in our generation, people are starting to educate themselves rather than relying on the media’s coverage.
Samiha: Yeah I 100% agree, it’s really about seeing all sides of the matter and not just basing everything off of what one sees on the media. It’s so crucial to reach out and have actual conversations with people rather than just relying on one side.