“Black Lives Matter” is not just a phrase for Black Americans. It is not something to only say that the only lives that matter are Black people; it’s a cry to say that their lives matter too, and they are human, no matter the color of their skin. It is a movement to end the over 400 years of suppression, blantant discrimination and ignorance whites practice. It is a movement for silenced voices to be heard. And for white supremacists to realize that incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against Black people is not okay.
After many Black Americans have been brutally and unjustly murdered this past year, from police officers who acted upon their privilege — who have not received proper conviction, including in countless murderous cases such as Daniel Prude, Elijah McClain and Breonna Taylor, a modern Civil Rights movement has begun once again with the introduction of the BREATHE Act. This legislation is making an intervention within the U.S. system’s elongated, racist project of criminalization.
Introduced by The Movement for Black Lives coalition in July, the proposed federal legislation is a bill that would “divest our taxpayer dollars from brutal and discriminatory policing and invests in a new vision of public safety—a vision that answers the call to defund the police and allows all communities to finally BREATHE free.”
With the four main goals: allotting funds to rebuilding communities, diverting federal resources from jails and police, investing in other methods of community safety, and holding law enforcement officials accountable for civil rights violations, the act would enable government institutions to invest funding into building a new model of public safety that doesn’t rely on jails, prisons and punishment of minorities. More than six million people are not allowed to vote today due to a felony conviction, something the BREATHE Act would immediately change if passed, CNN stated.
“We are rising up against all the ways that the criminal-legal system has harmed and failed to protect Black communities,” The Movement for Black Lives mission states. “The current moment requires a solution that fundamentally shifts how we envision community-care and invest in our society. History is clear that we cannot achieve genuine safety and liberation until we abandon police, prisons, and all punishment paradigms.”
For too long, Black people have been forced to hold their breath.
This is a valid cry for political change. The BREATHE Act has the potential to make it possible for Black people to live freely, and for communities to not be stuck in the same systematic, systemic oppression they have been succumbed to. We need to pay attention to the possibility of implementation of this act into our system, and that can only happen if we choose to listen and educate ourselves. If we push for change, if we choose to fight back, and if we choose to speak up to push Congress to take action in implementing the BREATHE Act.