Hidden Voices

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Race driven movements have taken over social media and city street’s in America in the past year, most specifically after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot down 12 times by white officer Darren Wilson on August 9th for committing a minor crime of stealing cigarillo’s from a convenience store. Wilson was never indicted for his crimes. Mass protests against the police force have erupted in Ferguson, and at least 266 demonstrations (Robinson) have been held worldwide in solidarity with the resistance in Ferguson. Social media has played a major role in the recent movement’s, with #BLACKLIVESMATTER frequently taking over the web creating a black Twitter. Violence against African-American individuals is by no means a new concept, but it has undoubtedly become one of the largest debates in the State’s recently, and police brutality and prejudice has come under major scrutiny.

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Martese Johnson was brutalized on March 18th outside of a Charlottesville bar for public intoxication and obstruction of justice. He was arrested by two “white agents” (cite article), whom claim that he “was very agitated and belligerent” (BBC). Yet an eyewitness, Bryan Beaubrun, says that Johnson “didn’t need to be tackled. He wasn’t being aggressive at all,” (BBC). The extent of the violence these officers used is horrid, and can be seen in the photos above. This incident really hits home for me due to the bar scene in Kingston that I have recently joined since turning 19. UVA students call their major club and bar area “the corner”, and similarly Queen’s students frequent “the hub”. Johnson is 20, and attempting to enter a bar at his age is illegal. Yet, I have see dozen’s of Queen’s students be turned away from clubs and bars in a friendly manner by bouncers here in Kingston, so the extent of Johnson’s injury’s is astonishing for his extremely minor crime. The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) officers that arrested Johnson certainly had the authority to reprimand him, but one cannot be arrested in the state of Virginia for merely attempting to enter a bar (Alcohol Policy Information Centre). The officer’s claim that the “uniformed ABC agent’s observed and approached and unidentified individual after he was refused entry” (BBC). As seen by the blood on Johnson’s face, the force did much more than just approach him.IMG_5198IMG_7427

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Even the title of this article has been mishandled, as it is called “Virginia Governor Calls for Inquiry” when it should be called “Virginia College Student Violently Attacked”. The voice’s that dominate this article come from white government officials, and primarily from the governor’s speaker. Governor Terry McAuliffe is a wealthy white straight male, and was the co-chairman of Bill Clinton’s re-election and the chair of Hilary Clinton’s election. It is fair to say that white privilege has helped McAuliffe in his extremely successful political life. His voice is important in this article, as knowing that government officials actually care about the violent oppression happening in their states is vital to fixing the issue, but there are more important voices that have been silenced. Martese Johnson is never given a chance to give his side of the story in this article, which is wrong. The article never even asks who Johnson is as a person, and when they do the journalist merely lists his Italian and Media Studies majors. While these are interesting subjects they do not make Johnson look as though he is the most intelligent student, while in reality he is. The Johnson in the photos above does not look harmful, or dangerous to anyone. Johnson has been on the Honor Committee for several years. The Honor Committee works to ensure that UVA students “never lie, cheat, or steal” (University of Virginia), and they hold these students accountable if they do so. It is my dearest hope that the ABC officers that attacked Johnson are held accountable for their mistreatment. Johnson ironically is also an activist for other black individual’s at his college, as demonstrated by the last photo.

The article demonstrates fundamental anti-blackness by not allowing differing races voices, only the white police officer’s and the white government official’s. Repression of black individuals by government officials stem’s from colonialism when major white European countries invaded and took control of foreign nations that were “not civilized” for moral, financial, and resource gain. One of the most colonized countries was Africa. Africa’s colonial take over resulted in these European officials sending boats of black bodies from their home off to America for to be slaves. The American official’s mistreatment of these people has never truly improved, from the Jim Crow south and the segregation seen in the 50’s. Yet, social media has allowed the black community to rise up against prejudice and the injustices they face, and enlighten the masses on the issues in the government system, from governors to police. What Professor Tolmie said was sadly true, “the rampant violence and discrimination perpetrated against black bodies goes unacknowledged or is rationalized as the natural state of black life” (Tolmie), and I hope this changes in the upcoming years with help from these movements, and produce a wider range of heard voices.

Works Cited:

BBC. “Virginia Governor Calls for Inquiry Into Student Arrest.” BBC, 19 March 2015: Web. 6 April 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31965856

Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

Tolmie, Jane. “Black Lives Matter Slides.” Queen’s University. Biology-Sciences Auditorium, Kingston, ON. 19 March 2015.

Alcohol Policy Information Centre. “State Profiles of Underage Drinking Laws – Virginia.” USA.gov, 2015. Web. 5 April
2015 https://alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/APIS_State_Profile.html?state=VA

The Honour Committee. “Honour Committee Pledge.” University of Virginia, 2012. Web. 3 April 2015. http://www.virginia.edu/honor/

Alisa Robinson. “2014-2015 Black Lives Matter Demonstrations” Alisa Robinson, 5 April 2015 @ 9:19 PM CDT. Web. 6 April 2015. https://www.elephrame.com/textbook/protests

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3 Comments

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  1. I really enjoyed how you tied all the themes of your blog together. I think in these articles especially it’s interesting to look at who has a voice and how the media is skewing the stories because the pieces that they want us to know really speaks to where our society stands. It’s disheartening seeing some of these men and women being attacked purely based on the threat of blackness when they are such outstanding citizens.

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  2. It’s difficult to recognize that someone of my own race could have the indecency to commit such an offence. Based on your description of the event, this seems to be completely prejudice. Maltese shows admirable characteristics, and is a well educated young man. I found I was very engaged when reading your post, and that it presents the issue well. The themes are brought together smoothly, and are strongly supported by other examples. I hope we see change in the near future, this is not acceptable.

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  3. The relation to the Michael Brown shooting was an excellent introduction to premise the extent to which this violence has been occurring in the US (Eric Garner was another black male in NYC who sadly was killed by police about a month before Brown). It’s astonishing that Johnson was not given a right to voice his side of the story after all that has happened. This just shows that an incident such as this one(or worse) can happen to any black individual, despite if they have committed a crime in their life or were outstanding citizens.

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