OPINION | We said #BlackLivesMatter, we won’t edit it to make you comfortable

The Black Lives Matter movement was sparked by the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, but it has since united people globally to take a stand against racial injustices.
The Black Lives Matter movement was sparked by the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, but it has since united people globally to take a stand against racial injustices.
Image: Getty Images

On Tuesday, my Instagram timeline was filled with nothing but black, mostly blank posts. Most of the people who I follow, including several of SA's famous faces, joined the global social media campaign in solidarity against racism.

People are at their wits' end over police brutality in black communities all over the world.

As much as South Africans may have jumped onto the bandwagon of a movement being lead by African Americans, this time it was different. We weren't just blindly supporting Americans - like we've happily done in the past - this time South Africans took a stand to vocalise our own struggles.  

There's no doubt that we South Africans tend to show support and stand with Americans in various situations. But this time we were standing up for ourselves - because on home soil, things have reached a boiling point as well.

In fact, if you look at things without blinkers, South Africans should have stood up a long time ago - every time a black woman is killed, every time a black woman is raped, every time a black man is taken due to police brutality.

Ours is an even deeper struggle, because we are not only tasked with making people of other races understand that we are worthy of life. Our struggles and challenges also extend to people with the same skin colour as us.

This is why I was proud to see social media filled with people standing together to say that black lives matter. I was even prouder to see several local celebrities adding their voice to this movement - despite the risk of the impact this could have to their brands and potential jobs in future. 

Influencer Mihlali Ndamase was told by a social media follower to "sit this one out" because condemning the killing of black people could cost her future partnerships with big brands.

Mihlali made it clear that she would not be silenced and that it would be a personal regret if she did not take a stand against the killing of "my people". 

At the risk of being ostracised by her colleagues, rapper Gigi Lamayne had to rattle the cage to remind black artists that they should use their platforms in solidarity of the movement.

Popular house trio Mi Casa challenged the government to take action and ensure that the soldiers and police officers allegedly linked to the deaths of Collins Khosa, Adane Emmanuel, Petrus Miggels and Sibusiso Amos are brought to book. The four are among several reported to have died following encounters with law enforcement officers during the nationwide lockdown.

There is clearly a disregard for black lives and yet I've noted there are still some people replying to our anger with phrases like "I don't see colour" or "all lives matter".

You would assume that people all over the world would have got the memo on why the #BlackLivesMatter movement exists - but this evidently isn't the case. 

It's been eight years since the #BlackLivesMatter movement was started, but for centuries black people have been dying, victimised and faced injustices at the hands of people who view them as subhuman. Well, not any more.

We are saying black lives matter. We've never said only black lives matter, but it's 2020: if we still have to explain why #BlackLivesMatter can stand without it's cousins #AllLivesMatter and #IDon'tSeeColour, then you are part of the problem. 

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