In the recent past, society has been awoken to the systematic violence that the minority ethnic groups, particularly the black population, faces in America. Nia Wilson, Emmett Till, Freddie Gray, and Trayvon Martin are some of the names of the African-American killed primarily due to the color of their skin (Ruskin 1). However, the act of saying the names of victims of racially motivated homicide is not essential to come to an understanding of the devaluation of black lives in the U.S because that strategy has not historically been effective in raising awareness - the best approach is to link racially motivated homicide with slavery - an embarrassing past that stands as a contrast to America's lofty ideals.
To come to the full understanding of the devaluation of black lives in the U.S., one needs not to mention the names of racially motivated homicide victims. First, this strategy is short-sighted because it will ultimately be limited by the passage of time and geographic location. For example, only people who know these victims personally are shaken when the names are mentioned and in years to come. As a result, the victims will only be remembered for a short time before the generation that knew them is gone, and these names mean very little. Also, only people in the close geographical proximity of the victims would have known them by name. This means that the rest of the country can quickly bury its head in the sand and pretend that all is well among the minority ethnic groups. Hence, calling out names is not an effective strategy in highlighting the plight of the minority groups because it is limited in both time and space.
However, as a champion of democracy across the globe together with its lofty ideals, America is easily ashamed of its past, particularly its ties with slavery. Slavery was an official system of racial segregation that viewed and treated the black community as permanent second-class citizens. Today's problems of the color line are deeply tied to this shameful past, a past that left an indelible imprint on the nation's soul. Associating the "leader of the free world" with a regime of racial subordination is not only shameful but is also a statement that reverberates across the entire nation, raising a debate that is likely to last for generations.
Besides, it would also be useful to remind everyone that the phrase "a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," is failing a significant portion of its population (Loury 1). By reminding the policymakers and the entire community of the U.S. that there are still sections of its society that are still waiting to be treated equally, the politicians will be startled to learn that the end of slavery was just the beginning of the quest for democratic equality.
Hence, calling of names is a radical but significantly limited strategy of addressing the devaluation of black lives in the U.S. The most effective manner of addressing this issue is to tie it to the country's slavery past. For a country that prides itself with such notions as the equality of all men and democratic liberties, the mention of this fundamental flaw or its "original sin" is enough to provoke a debate that is likely to bring back the focus of the problem of the color line, just like William Du Bois predicted in 1903 (Loury 1).
Loury, Glenn C. "An American Tragedy: The legacy of slavery lingers in our cities' ghettos." Brookings 1 Mar 1998. brookings.edu/articles/an-american-tragedy-the-legacy-of-slavery-lingers-in-our-cities-ghettos/
Ruskin, Zack. "David Byrne Said Their Names at the Fox." SF Weekly 20 Aug 2018. www.sfweekly.com/music/david-byrne-said-their-names-at-the-fox/.
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