#blacklivesmatter by Rinoa Wong July 23, 2020
After George Floyd‘s death, people from all over the country have protested against the U.S. justice system. These protests make their message extremely clear: Reform the police and create laws that hold racists and abusers accountable for their hate crimes.
Although this seems fairly simple, it is clear that those in power care more about policing than protection.
In hopes to please protestors, there have been countless “victories”. These victories include painting street murals, having non-Black actors/actresses drop out of their role if they are not Black, and removing racist episodes on streaming services.
However, none of these “changes” are exactly what the protestors are fighting for. By completely ignoring the actual demands of the protestors and skirting around the real issue, it shows how little the government actually cares.
On June 19th, New York City Mayor, Bill De Blasio, announced the five streets that would be painted and renamed in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement. This mural will be designed along the streets of Centre Street in Manhattan, 153rd street in Queens, Joralemon Street in Brooklyn, Morris Avenue in the Bronx, and Richmond Terrace in Staten Island.
In a June press conference, de Blasio said, “What will be clear — the street name and on the streets of our city — is that message that now this city must fully, fully deeply feel and this nation must as well, that Black Lives Matter.”
He also declared Juneteenth an official city and school holiday.
Black history is American history. Proud to announce that beginning next year, Juneteenth will be an official city and school holiday.
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) June 19, 2020
NYC Governor Andrew Cuomo also stated that Juneteenth will be recognized as a holiday for state employees. Next year, he will introduce legislation to make it an official state holiday.
Last week, actress Jenny Slate stepped down from her role as Missy in Big Mouth. She informed her followers of the decision via Instagram.
Hulu has taken down an episode of Golden Girls which depicts two white women wearing a brown mud face mask. The women claim they were doing “blackface” but anyone with eyes would be able to tell that was not the case.
The two characters, Betty White and Sue McClanahan wore the beauty mud mask in preparation for a wedding they were to attend later that episode. Although these characters are not purposely wearing blackface, Hulu believes they are showing solidarity by removing this episode.
Brands removing their problematic episodes feels like a way of equating Black Lives Matter with "cancel culture" to delegitimise the movement and court outrage. I haven't seen one placard in these marches saying "REMOVE EPISODE 323 OF THE GOLDEN GIRLS FROM HULU"
— hamish steele! (@hamishsteele) June 28, 2020
Twitter users have expressed their annoyance at how people seem to be doing a good job of avoiding what they actually want to happen.
everyone: defund the police
mayors: yes we’ll rename streets and paint murals
everyone: no we said de—
celebrities: ok we’ll stop voicing cartoon characters
everyone: that’s not wh—
hulu: fine we’ll remove the golden girls episode with mud masks
everyone: what is happening
— aaron from queens (@aaronnarraph) June 28, 2020
we’re renaming streets, stepping down from cartoon roles, tearing down statues. and still not defunding, reforming, abolishing none of these other systems responsible for violence against black folk.
— fredrick scott salyers. (@7haman) June 28, 2020
Symbolic victories do not change or reform systems that actively harm Black people. This causes the government to push a narrative that protesters are ungrateful and unsatisfied.
In reality, every “change” as a result of protests is not effective. What is a street sign going to do for Black justice?
As Malcolm X gracefully put it, “The white man will try to satisfy us with symbolic victories rather than economic equity and real justice.”
Protestors will not back down until proper justice can be given to those who have been failed.