This Is America

America has failed to bring justice to countless innocent lives for far too long, and change must happen now.

All+the+black+men%2C+woman+and+children+to+die+at+the+hands+of+white+police+officers+%28including+Ahmaud+Arbery+who+was+killed+by+white+civilians%29+after+Eric+Garner%27s+death+in+2014.+May+their+names+be+remembered.+%28List+of+names+provided+by+NPR%29

digital drawing by Betul Tuncer

All the black men, woman and children to die at the hands of white police officers (including Ahmaud Arbery who was killed by white civilians) after Eric Garner's death in 2014. May their names be remembered. (List of names provided by NPR)

Betul Tuncer, Assignments Editor

As we all must know already, a week ago George Floyd was murdered by a white officer in a disturbing and brutal way. When I saw the news and the video, I was absolutely devastated. My first reaction was “not again”.

Since 2015 1,252 African Americans have been shot and killed by police and that number doesn’t even include those killed in other ways besides bullets, like George Floyd. It pains me to see how so many lives have been lost and America has yet to change.

How many more lives have to be lost for there to be change?

The fact that there even has to be a list of names for there to be action is appalling. Those black men, women and children shouldn’t have been killed in the first place. The fact that, despite having come so far since the era of slavery, America still is in the wrong is disgusting to me.

Being black or brown or whatever race shouldn’t — in any circumstance — put someone’s life at risk. And yes, I know that I’m white, which means I myself am not put at risk because of my color. But neither should anyone else.

Every white person in America must acknowledge the fact that they have white privilege so that they can be a part of the change and not the problem. Acknowledging one’s own privilege in no way devalues their struggles. It simply points out the fact that their skin color had nothing to do with their struggles.

Likewise, the All Lives Matter movement also disgusts me. It is a clear attack on the Black Lives Matter movement and intent on diminishing the voices of blacks  who are demanding justice and an end to the systemic racism and oppression. Do all lives matter? Obviously. However, we currently must address the problem with gross racial inequity in our justice system.

If we as the youth of America want to see change, we must initiate it. There shouldn’t be any more names added to the list of innocent black lives killed. And the only way that’s going to happen is first through police oversight and ultimately through a more just balance of privilege in America.

Click the image to see ways you can take action and demand change. (photo from Fast Company)

If you want to be a part of the change and help fight for justice for George Floyd and the countless other black lives lost, please act. Sign petitions, protest, donate to the cause — and if you can’t do that, the least you can do is use your voice. No matter who you are or what platform you have, your voice is powerful and that power should be used to stand up against injustice.

We can’t get better if we don’t address the problem. We must all, regardless of race, come together to initiate change and demand better for the black community. We must demand better for the sake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Antwon Rose, Trayvon Martin and every single innocent life lost — so that no more are lost at the hands of a society and justice system deeply entrenched in racism, hate and bigotry.

This is America and we, the youth, can change it.

 

The following is a poem titled “This is America!” that I wrote the night after the murder of George Floyd. It is simply just a response to the situation through emotions, since the only way I knew to express those emotions was through writing.

poem by Betul Tuncer