In America, there has been a lot of unrest in different racial and ethnic communities for various reasons, many of which have lead to civil demonstrations.
The African-American community created the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2013 after unarmed women and men were killed by police. Many other communities, which are predominantly white, created an anti-gun movement as a result of the numerous white children, teens and adults who were injured or killed during mass shootings.
Many people from the African-American community have pointed out what they see as a double standard in the way these two movements are represented. They state that when African-Americans voice their opinions through protest about these injustices, other communities object to their slogans, protests and purpose; but when Caucasians voice their opinions through protest, they are supported and given national attention.
Some validate the disparities between African-American and Caucasian protesters by saying that African-Americans have been violent rioters while Caucasians are more peaceful protesters. Live feeds and pictures have shown that both communities organize together peacefully, but when law enforcement and protest opposers get involved, they alter the progress.
Why are there disparities between protests within African-American and Caucasian communities?
“I do believe there are disparities in the way young black protesters are treated versus the way white protesters are. When young black people protest, they recieve more negative criticism. For example, black protesters in Ferguson were met with a lot of resistance and police force whereas the March for Our Lives protest allowed protesters to peacefully gather with no police force,” senior mass communication major, Faith Murray, said.
Taylor Proctor, a junior early childhood education major, agrees with Murray.
“The reason young black protesters are being treated differently is because they bring all of that unfair treatment of African-Americans and racism up to the surface and that means people have to face it,” Proctor said. “People don’t want to acknowledge or pay attention to the injustice that is embedded in this country. They just want to scoot young black protesters under the rug to ‘quiet’ them. People know that the United States is glaringly racist—there are things that happen every single day to prove that—they just don’t want to admit it.”
Murray stated that she thinks celebrities are speaking up when it is convenient. She said that the celebrities that are not minorities are not doing everything in their power to speak up for everyone because they are afraid of the backlash they could potentially receive from those who don’t share their beliefs.
Proctor said that she doesn’t believe celebrities who are not minorities should speak up for the people who are. “Instead of people speaking over people who are minorities to speak about people who are minorities, let them speak for themselves,” Proctor said.
“I’m sure it’s possible [for someone to stand up for and support March For Our Lives’ values/initiatives but not stand up for and support Black Lives Matter’s values/initiatives], but I don’t think it’s ok,” Murray said. “I think the two causes go hand in hand. Gun violence is an issue, whether it’s police killing civilians, or civilians killing others. The common issue between the two is that guns are an issue when placed in the hands of certain people, so there needs to be regulations in place for anyone who needs or wants to own one. So with that being said, how could you stand for one and not the other?”