As the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement enters its eighth year, proponents of this social justice movement find themselves at a critical and dynamic inflection point.
BLM launched in 2013 as a Twitter hashtag. It was prompted by the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of private citizen George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was subsequently tried for the murder of Martin and acquitted.
The outcome of the trial reignited a firestorm of protest within the African American community. The Martin case was far from the first example of what many believe is a two-tiered U.S. justice system in which whites have all the advantages and black people are repeatedly denied justice.
Janaya Khan works as an international ambassador for Black Lives Matter. The 33-year-old Toronto-born activist is also the co-founder of the Canadian chapter of Black Lives Matter. She said a number of events are coming together right now that will shape the future of the BLM movement.
The most prominent happening right now is the current trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with the murder of George Floyd. A second recent event was a decision by a Kentucky judge to close the case against the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor. She was a black emergency medical technician who was shot dead by three police officers in her own apartment. Her boyfriend shot one of the officers in defense of Ms. Taylor.
These and other high-profile cases of innocent black people dying at the hands of mostly white police officers have kept the fire lit under the Black Lives Matter movement. Khan said the outcome of the George Floyd case will speak volumes about how ready our legal system is to deliver justice, not just for George Floyd, but for the American black community.
Janaya Khan said these happenings have brought us to a “turning point.” She called this a moment in time where the future can be changed in ways that will have a lasting influence for decades to come.
Khan said African Americans must seize the opportunity today to “rewrite the script” of what it means to be a black person in the United States and Canada.
Khan added that black people must realize that they should become “activists in their daily lives” and not just coming out for protests when big events happen. Gaining equality is accomplished a little at a time every day and is reflected in every life decision one makes, she said.