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Sea Mar -Community Health Centers

Social Justice

Important Terms Relevant to the Black Lives Matter Movement and Social Justice

To engage in the topics of white supremacy, white privilege and the histories of people of color in the U.S., we provide a brief explanation on important terms relevant to these topics and the Black Lives Matter Movement. This series is part of a larger project Sea Mar is working on to educate our communities on important issues affecting communities of color. The Social Justice page will also include a resource guide for individuals and groups interested in digging deeper into these issues. This guide will include a reading, watch, podcast, and film list to name a few. Please keep checking the social justice page for periodic updates.

Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where black lives are systemically and intentionally targeted for demise. The police kill people in this community without reason and those who abuse their power are not punished. The Black Lives Matter movement is an affirmation of black folks’ humanity, their contributions to this society, and their resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

Saying black lives matter does not mean that the lives of other groups are not valued, but that we cannot ignore that the black or African American community is at greater risk. It is important to view African American’s oppression through the historical lens, which is well over 400 years in duration.

Photograph: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters
Original artist unknown

Slavery in the U.S.
Africans and African Americans were enslaved in this country for centuries. Although the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, the oppression of the African American community continued under a system known as the Black codes designed to limit their freedom, especially by the Southern states. Jim Crow laws continued the oppressive regime well into the twentieth century.

For decades, African Americans did not have access to the same educational opportunities or jobs as whites. Today opportunities remain limited. Centuries of abuse, violence, oppression, slavery and segregation have contributed to the way in which the African American community is treated.

Settler Colonialism
Settler colonialism functions through the replacement of indigenous populations with an invasive settler society that, over time, develops a distinctive identity and sovereignty. Settlers attempt to engineer the disappearance of the indigenous people’s territory by any means necessary (religious conversion, reprogramming via boarding schools or missions, etc.).

This means that settler colonialism is not just a vicious thing of the past, such as the gold rush, but exists as long as settlers are living on appropriated land and thus exists today. Settler colonialism is a structural system, not an event in history. It destroys to replace while promoting white supremacy.

Systemic Racism
Power systems and institutions have been created with the mindset of benefiting white people. This means that people of color, such as the African American and Latino communities, do not receive the same resources, benefits and opportunities as others.

Systemic racism is embedded in the unemployment rates, healthcare, the difference in the wages earned by different groups, the type of housing or the neighborhoods in which these communities live, and the incarceration of these communities in large numbers. Oppression and racism go beyond physical violence and are manifested in our daily lives through these systems and institutions of power.


Police Brutality
Police brutality is the excessive use of force and violence by police. It can be physically, with blows and even with death. It mainly affects underrepresented communities, especially the black and Latino communities.

Sometimes simple things like a traffic ticket have resulted in the death of an unarmed black or Latino person. In fact, black individuals are 2.8 times more likely to die due to police brutality than white individuals.

Racial Profiling
Racial profiling is the discriminatory practice of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Black and brown people have suffered most under this system.

More than 240 years of slavery and 90 years of legalized racial segregation have led to systemic profiling of blacks in traffic and pedestrian stops. As a result, African American communities are detained by police more than other communities and police use more violence against them.

White Privilege
White Privilege is defined as the unearned advantages and benefits that accrue to White people by virtue of a system normed on the experiences, values, and perceptions of their group.

White privilege automatically confers dominance to one group, while subordinating groups of color in a descending relational hierarchy; it owes its existence to White supremacy; it is deeply embedded in the structural, systemic and cultural workings of U.S. society; and it operates within an invisible veil of unspoken and protected secrecy.

Artist: Emanu
Photograph: Simaloi Leina

Anti-blackness is a form of racism that is specifically damaging for black people. It is more than just “racism against black people.” There are negative feelings against black people. These feelings are manifested in stereotypes or negative images against this community. Examples such as thinking that children with white skin and colored eyes are more beautiful and more innocent than black or brown children.

These prejudices affect how the community is seen and treated. Anti-blackness describes the inability to recognize black humanity. It captures the reality that the kind of violence that saturates black life is not based on any specific thing a black person did. The violence blacks experience is not tied to any particular transgression. It is gratuitous and unrelenting.

Riots vs. Protests
It is unfortunate that some businesses have been affected, but there will always be people who use the protests for other purposes. Please remember that this does not define a movement! The reason for these protests and this movement is to denounce the deaths in the African American community.

Let us remember that it is not our place to judge these communities or comment on how they should or should not express their pain and frustration. Material things are replaceable, but the lives of African American communities are not! Some wish to portray the peaceful protests as riots in order to discredit the grievances and Black Lives Matter movement.

Photograph: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

How Can I Help?
  • Pay attention to the voices and stories of the black community
  • Participate in educational dialogues, sign available petitions, or make donations to accredited organizations
  • Find a way to continue learning without the affected people having to teach and correct you, do not depend on only one source of information

Article sources:
ACLU, Racial Profiling: Definition
ACLU, Racial Profiling
Black Lives Matter, Herstory
Community to Community, What is Settler Colonialism?
Dr. Maricela Becerra, Instagram: @academicmami
Global Social Theory: Settler Colonialism
Sarah DeGue, Katherine A. Fowler, and Cynthia Calkins, Deaths Due to Use of Lethal Force by Law Enforcement:
Findings From the National Violent Death Reporting System, American journal of preventive medicine

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