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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

The Killing of Black Bodies: Black Lives Matter

October 22, 2016
Abiola Bankole is the Founder of Afrokanist Magazine: a platform focused on celebrating young Africans, both in Africa and the diaspora. Abiola is also a recent graduate of Goldsmiths University where she studied BA Social and Cultural Studies and founded Goldsmith’s first Pan-African Society.

 

Black Lives Matter protesters lying on road heading to Heathrow Airport (@WailQ/PA Wire)

Black Lives Matter protesters lying on road heading to Heathrow Airport (@WailQ/PA Wire)

 

There is a misconception that the disproportional amount of deaths of black people at the hands of law enforcement only occurs in the US; Newsflash, that is not true. Representatives of Black Lives Matter UK state: “In the UK we have a system where the people that end up dead after interactions with police, or immigration officers, or prison officers are disproportionately black and brown.”

Dalian Atkinson (15 August 2016 in Telford, Shropshire)

James Wilson (29 March 2016 in South Shields, Northumbria)

Jermaine Baker (11 December 2015 in Wood Green, London)

Richard Davies (21st October 2015 in St. Neots, Cambridgeshire)

James Fox (30 August 2015, in London, England)

Dean Joseph (5 September 2014 in London, England)

Anthony Grainger (3 March 2012 in Cheshire, England)

Mark Duggan (4 August 2011 in London, England)

These are the recorded names of black people killed by law enforcement officers in the UK within the past five years. The job of a police constable is to maintain law and order; to protect members of the public and their property; to prevent, detect, and investigate crime. But what do you do when the people meant to protect you, get away with murder?

After the demonstration that took place on August 5th, 2016, some people have been asking: “Why is there a Black Lives Matter protest in the UK?” or “Why are black people in the UK co-opting an American movement?” To say the Black Lives Matter movement is only an American problem is to be naïve to the plight of black people globally. Take, for example, the over-representation of black people in prisons in comparison to other races. The Prison Reform Trust UK found that in the UK, one in ten prisoners are Black, stating that this was “significantly higher than the 2.8% of the general population they represent.”  That statistic embodies the underestimation of institutional racism in the UK.

The sad reality is that institutional racism is rife in other industries. In academia, some argue that there is a whitewashing of history and education, likewise in the media, it is no secret that there is constant dehumanisation of black aesthetics and hyper-sexuality of black bodies.

History shows that ever since the inception of capitalism and slavery, black bodies have been commodified to the benefit and privilege of the slave master and his institutions. This commodification gave way to the exploitation of black people and the dehumanisation of black bodies. It is strikingly uncomfortable to know that some people, despite evidence to the contrary, argue that systemic racial profiling and prejudice no longer exist; although it is worth stating that most of these people accept such glaring lies because the system does not subject them to victimisation personally.

More than just a hashtag, Black Lives Matter creates an opportunity for black and white people to work in solidarity against an endemically unfair and unequal system. No one is free until we are all free. Black Lives Matter UK, Black Lives Matter US, Black Lives Matter Earth, Stop the killing of Black people.