As we look at the state of the United States, it is one of extreme divisiveness. Our division is playing out on the world stage in a way that is truly embarrassing. It has been 52 since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr and yet the world is almost the same as it was then. There is still police brutality as we are seeing on news broadcasts and social media. There are still people out there that are willing to pervert the message that peaceful protests are trying to convey; destroying property and escalating things until they become violent. In this current climate I truly am fearful for my black friends. I fear for their safety and that of their kids. These are truly troubling times. Times when standing up for injustice is met by tear gas, bullets, and a fear that if you are colored, you may not make it how to see your kids. Unfortunately nothing has changed over the years as we seen more of this on social media due to the growth of camera phone technology. Each time, the uprising gets bigger and more people come out in support of change, but that disappears when it isn’t the it thing of the day. Times really need to change.
Over the years, movies and even podcasters have started to shine a light on injustice but also the great work that people of color can do. You look at movies like Hidden Figures which highlights Kathrine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan. Their work was instrumental in the US space race with Russia. There is the movie Green Book which was inspired by the contributions that Don Shirley had but also the immense racism he faced trying to bring his music to the south. Movies like V For Vendetta, Equilibrium, and the Star Wars saga have shown us what can happen to societies when civil liberties are stripped from us.
Movies and gaming is still dominated by characters that are primarily Caucasian. A couple of months back, the podcast Rusty Rupees highlighted just that, and frankly I had just a hard time coming with gaming protagonists of color. This is a big problem in gaming and game should reflect the world. That being said, gaming has evolved to include characters that are LBGT characters and games that depict what the civil rights movement was like. Neil Druckman and Naughty Dog have received public backlash because Ellie is lesbian. For those that voicing their objection to this, did you not play the Left Behind DLC? Take Detroit: Become Human by Quantic Dream. Although the game is about Android rights, you could easily see the parallels to the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s in America.
Although Hollywood and the gaming industry are trying to provide more roles to actors/actresses of color, and to make main characters more diverse, it is not enough. It is the lack of growth in diversity that podcasters are stepping to the forefront to shine a light on people of color and the contributions they are making. Two prime examples are The Rusty Rupees and Spawn On Me. They have fantastic discussions about gaming but ensure they are focusing on highlighting the work that African Americans are doing in the industry.
In order for society to grow into the equality that Martin Luther King Jr saw for people, we must first look to ourselves. For those that are staying silent and not even reaching out to their black friends, that is the start of the problem. To be silent is complacent. The current narrative is one that villainizes Colin Kappernick fans other sports players for taking a knee during the National Anthem(which is not illegal) to protest inequality and police brutality and one that celebrates armed, mostly white Americans storming the Michigan state assembly demanding the state be reopened so they can get hair cuts, nails done, etc. There was enough threat to life, that elected state officials wore bullet proof vests while on the chamber floors. The narrative on the national stage is that the protestors are violent destructive people. However when you start looking at the videos from social media and the media, it is law enforcement and what appears to be younger, white kids that are escalating things. Violence should not be met with violence, it never solves anything.
In order for us to heal, to come together for equality, we must follow the examples Sheriff Chris Swanson in Flint, MI who laid down his helmet and baton, and asked “How can I help?”. We need to follow the example of those officers in New Jersey who are marching with the peaceful protestors. We need to stop looking at the phrase “Black Live Matters” as though it means that their lives mean more than anyone else and starting looking at it for what it truly means, that their lives are threatened and that their lives truly matter. Frankly, to this point it seems that society has not felt like black lives matter. If society did, it wouldn’t need to take a social media campaign to bring the Minneapolis officer or the murderers of unarmed jogger Ahmaud Arbery to be brought to justice. Bottom line is that all lives are precious and should be valued, but right now, people of color are under attack by the system that is meant to protect them. Change always starts with that first drop of rain or the first flap of a butterfly’s wings. This ripple has been building for a long time. Its time we stand together in harmony, unity, and EQUALITY. Just a word of support goes a long way. If you cannot protest in person, reach out and simply ask “How can I help?”. This is their fight, but it needs to be OUR fight. Stand with them because in the end it should not be about a person’s color to determine worth it should be about the person.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” - Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence