Dismantling a Complex Ideology: Thoughts on the BLM Movement

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

On Sunday, May 31, 2020, over 700 people joined me and my friends in solidarity to fight against white supremacy and the institutions that uphold them in the United States. The sun was shining, the wind was there to keep us cool, and love was reigning for all of us. This day all came about through a simple tweet, a rhetorical question that asked “Can we please do a protest in Monroe, please”. This shot in the wind caught the attention of Suhi Saran and was followed by her question of “How do we get a protest to happen in Monroe?” This was the spark to a fire in which ignited the #BlackLivesMatter protest in the 845, and it was through mere word of mouth and the help of Sky Arroyo, Chris Omar, Tabatha Castro, Tyjai Lewis and social media that made the demonstration prominent in the Hudson Valley.

Unsurprisingly, once our protest was shared in various community groups on Facebook, local residents who opposed the Black Lives Matter movement and current demonstrations of protests across the United States reveled in their grievances about the thought of an upcoming protest coming to the town of Monroe. These residents had preconceived notions that the protest was going to result in the looting of small businesses and arson due to the riots that were presently being broadcasted on the news. Through their uproar, our protest was able to gain even more momentum because many people were sharing it amongst themselves and to various community pages on Facebook.

Here are my sentiments to those who were so quick to assume that this protest was going to turn out violent: How do you feel now? How do you feel about being so blatantly loud and wrong, that you even went to the lengths of threatening young adults with your, and I quote, “M-4” guns? I hope you feel ashamed of yourselves. The protest was full of nothing but love and empathy, two things that need to be injected into the veins of these complicit racists who find no harm in the genocide of black people through white supremacy. Black people have been fighting for racial equality peacefully for decades, and yet these issues proceed to exist and solidify themselves into our society. How is that we transformed the act of slavery into a system of mass incarceration?

In order to dismantle a complex ideology of hate such as racism, it requires the majority of society, also deemed as Caucasians, to feel uncomfortable and spread education that has been suppressed from the public for years. Regardless if you attended the protest in Monroe, or the ones that followed in Middletown, Cornwall, or Goshen, the fight for justice is still not over. The fight for justice endures until we have made strong efforts in defunding the police and in the divesting of funds into departments and institutions that promote the flourishment and well being of a community.

Evidently, the abolition of the police system is necessary if we desire true and significant change in police brutality because the police system has been infiltrated so much into black and brown areas that it is solely impossible to not see police presence while in these neighborhoods. The truth is, the current police system in this country is outdated. We deserve more social services and resources in urban areas that aim to fully heal and rectify traumatic situations before they evolve into something much more volatile and resistant to control. People do not commit crimes for no reason, we are not born evil. Black Lives Matter is about changing the way people view human dignity, it is about rejecting every nuance of racism and dehumanization, and realizing that black people are human beings, too.

Shelby Seth is a #BLM organizer and a recent graduate of Chapman University. You can follow her on twitter @shelbypetrova