As a 20-year-old, lifelong Elginite, the internet has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. While some may call that a privilege and others a curse, the simple fact is that in today’s world, information is being spread at historic rates. With the simple click of a button, you can learn about events happening in Elgin or worldwide.
As the Black Lives Matter movement sweeps the globe, being uninformed about the reasoning behind the movement and the inequity in society is no longer excusable. I understand that there are plenty of new phrases and ideas being used as a result of this fight to create an equal society. Phrases such as “systemic racism” and “white privilege,” to name a few. To some, these phrases dictate their lives. To others, these phrases may be unheard of until today. Yet, the burden of educating does not fall upon the shoulders of the oppressed.
While I hope that each of you is standing up to the racism present in your lives, being a voice for positive change, and having difficult conversations with those around you, I understand that those things may not be feasible for all. However, I do challenge each of you to take it upon yourself to be informed about the issues currently being protested and the historical, systemic racism that has led to this movement. When people talk about defunding or abolishing the police, be informed enough to know that this phrase doesn’t mean every officer is a bad person. Rather, that in the South, police forces were often created to maintain the system of slavery, which has resulted in a disproportionate criminalization of various communities, but most heavily the Black community. When people talk about looting, be informed enough to know that the Economic Policy Institute estimates that an average of $15 billion per year is stolen from Americans via wage theft or that looting is not condoned by the Black Lives Matter movement. Be informed enough to know the full story and history of the injustices currently being protested.
Again, being accurately informed is not the only thing required to create an equal society. It is, however, an action that each of us must partake in. There is no longer an excuse to be uninformed about these issues. Not to mention, it is more important and easier than ever before. So, let’s stop the excuses and instead start working together to reverse hundreds of years of inequality. Black Lives Matter.
Jacob Henry Neidig