Social justice, or issues of fairness and equality have played an important role in the history of the US. Social justice grants all citizens equal opportunities. It does not discriminate based on age, gender, religion, sexuality or race. One current issue that I am passionate about is race discrimination and the need for equality of all people. In 1868, the 14th amendment of the US Constitution gave black citizens equal protection under the law. As a nation, how do we achieve social justice for black people?
In 1991, Rodney King was brutally beaten by a Los Angeles, CA police officer following a routine traffic stop. This act of police brutality was filmed by George Holliday and sent to the local news. This sparked a nationwide protest and riots against racism and police brutality.
In 2020, George Floyd was forcibly held down and restrained by a Minneapolis, MN police officer following an arrest for passing a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. This act of police brutality was recorded and posted on social media. This again sparked a nationwide protest and riots against racism and police brutality. It has been almost 30 years between the King and Floyd police brutality cases. Very little has been done to advance equality in this country. Why? Because people of difference races are not having an “intelligent” conversation about the root of their issues. Are these two cases about racism, equality or police brutality? Black citizens feel that their “cries” for justice and equality are not being heard and their lives do not matter in this society. If you’re white, you see the black community looting the CVS stores and burning police stations. You listen to the name calling and hear on the news about the murder of a retired black police Sargent David Dorn by a rioter. Does destruction of property, name calling, and murder of your own race advance the cause of equality for the black community? No, it hurts the cause because people are not listening to the “cries” for justice and equality. In fact, the white community is turning a blind eye. Violence is not the answer. It turns many people away from the message in disgust.
In 1955, Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white person sparked a bus boycott that lasted 381 days. Her efforts led to a nationwide effort to end racial segregation and achieve racial equality. In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream, that one day my 4 little children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. Dr. King believed in peaceful protests. 250,000 people of all races came together to “listen” to his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Why? Because they shared a common goal to learn about each other. President John F. Kennedy supported and approved the “March on Washington” when he was assured the event would be peaceful. Peaceful demonstrations have led to the desegregation of schools and public facilities in the United States.
Social justice or issues of equality have been a part of US history for decades. The current events of police brutality causing cries of racism and riots makes me feel like nothing has changed in 30 years. So, how do we begin to achieve social justice for black people? Peaceful protests vs. Riots. Nothing will change until protests are done in peace and people come together to “listen”.