Last updated on April 13th, 2021 at 10:21 am
George Floyd’s murder—in the midst of a global pandemic, no less—was a stark reminder that Black lives don’t matter in 2020.
At least not as much as they should.
While a good chunk of the world was shocked by the number of Blacks killed by police, for far too much of the Black community it was an all-too-familiar story with the number of Black lives taken too soon, and we were frankly shocked by the overwhelming reaction the world had to the news.
And the world got vocal about it all, explaining why Black lives do matter in a world convinced otherwise. But as well-intentioned as everyone’s efforts were, they didn’t always tell the entire story, and after a while, it all started to make me think.
Let’s take a look at a meme that was meant to explain white privilege to others and why it was so important to understand the Black Lives Matter movement:
A Meme on Examples of White Privilege
“I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice about it…
I can go birding (#ChristianCooper).
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery).
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson).
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark).
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis).
I can sell CD’s (#AltonSterling).
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones).
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).
I can go to church (#Charleston9).
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).
I can hold a hairbrush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell).
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant).
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford).
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott).
I can be a 10-year-old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo).
I can run (#WalterScott). I can breathe (#EricGarner).
I can live (#FreddieGray).
I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd).
White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a Black person’s experience today. EDUCATE YOURSELF AND USE YOUR PRIVILEGE TO BE AN EFFECTIVE ALLY.
*I copied and pasted this… please do the same.
It’s About More than Black Deaths, Though: There’s FAR More to the Story.
Now—I’m not fully hating on memes like this. Yes, it gets Botham Jean’s name wrong, and yes, it confuses parts of Sean Bell’s story with Khiel Coppin’s, but it at least raises awareness of so many of the Black people whose lives have been taken by injustices over time. But what are we accomplishing if all we mention of these names are the ways that they died instead of placing importance on the ways that they lived as well?
In Murdered for their Melanin, I wanted to humanize these names, giving more context to the lives that were stolen from African Americans entirely too soon.
And so I got to work, picking the meme apart, educating myself on the stories of all the people mentioned in the hashtags. And I won’t lie—so much of the research was super depressing, but I knew it was necessary to build something that could help people think differently. It took plenty of work with some assists from my friend Jenn Annis, but after enough hours spent in Adobe Illustrator, I finally wound up with Murdered for their Melanin: It’s More Than Just a Meme.