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February marks black history month

Black history month around the world is a landmark event that sees the historically marginalised and often erased stories of black lives celebrated and the harsh realities of black history and racism retold. Black history month is about empowerment; it's about owning our history for better and for worse and understanding what it can teach us. Black history month is about the continued fight against racism and for equality, no matter the colour of your skin or your heritage.

But arguably no other nation is grappling with its black history as well as present as the United States of America is. It is precisely because of its tumultuous past and ongoing mistreatment of black lives that this Black History month marks not only a reminder of what has been but also a brutal realisation of what is happening today.

FairPlanet is committed to the equal representation of human lives, and it is with this ethos that we are entering this week's roundup on Black History Month. Read, Debate: Engage.

The good

Black lives matter has become one of the biggest, most viral movements in history

In 2012, 17-year-old, unarmed Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch who felt Travyon, walking home after buying a pack of Skittles at a nearby service station, was ‘out of place’ in the middle-class area. Zimmerman was acquitted for all charges.

Just a few moments after the acquittal went public, community organiser Patrisse Cullors created the now universally recognised social media hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, and Opal Tometi created the website and social media platforms that soon connected people across the U.S. Black Lives Matter was born, and the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter started spreading like wildfire.

A year later, the hashtag went viral during the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, when people took to the streets by the thousands with a simple message: Stop Killing Us.

Six years on, Black Lives Matter has become one of the largest global movements, crossing oceans, continents and cultures. The message remains the same, no matter what your culture is or where you live: black lives matter and the mistreatment of black people has to stop. Now.

The bad

The u.s. is systematically incarcerating members of the black community

The U.S. racially biased justice system has been under the public eye for some time now. From Netflix documentaries depicting questionable trials and cases, to This American Life digging deeper through investigative podcasts that had us all hooked. But what seems to have become a topic for major entertainment contracts across all media formats (cough cough Orange is the New Black) is no joke, particularly if you are a person of colour.

African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of white Americans. And generally, the U.S. makes up 21 per cent of the entire world's prisoners and only has 2 per cent of the world's population. For comparison, the U.S. currently has over 2 million citizens imprisoned and has a population of 320 million. China, on the other hand, a country that boasts 1.2 billion citizens, currently has 1.5 million people in correctional facilities.

And within those shocking stats, it is women of colour who are the fastest-growing demographic to be put behind bars.

In response, a petition launched by Pamela Winn, a victim herself of gross mistreatment and abuse behind bars, galvanises support for the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act - a piece of legislation currently making its way through Congress that would provide better trauma-informed care and health services for women in prison, facilitate and strengthen their communication with their families and children and help them reintegrate into their communities once released.

Currently at 190,000 of the 200,000 petition goal, it has never been more important to support Winn's cause and help incarcerated women get the support they deserve.


Sign the petition urging Congress to protect the rights of female inmates in the U.S.

by Yair Oded

A petition launched by a former female inmate calls on Congress to pass a law that would protect the rights and safety of women in U.S. prisons.
What FairPlanet has to say

Violence in Rio de Janeiro: black lives are lost in a racist war

by Ellen Nemitz

Raull Santiago is a black man, born and raised in Complexo do Alemão, a huge slum — or favela — in Rio de Janeiro. He is the co-creator of a local media called Papo Reto and one of the main voices of poor and black people, the majority population in these slums.
Lori Lightfoot

Who is Chicago’s first queer black female mayor?

by Yair Oded

Chicago made history by electing its first queer black female mayor. Yet her track record on police brutality is alarming to many young activists.
Danny Rose

Black football stars can't wait to leave the racist game

by Gurmeet Singh

Professional football is so lofty and moneyed, so removed from everyday life, that anything goes, doesn't it?
white house

Where do Democrats stand on slavery reparations?

by Yair Oded

Democratic presidential candidates face a new litmus test regarding race issues: their position on reparations for descendants of slavery.
Rioting erupts in Ferguson, Missouri after police involved shooting of an unarmed teen

What to do after Ferguson's Grand Jury Decision?

by Murat Suner

Reflecting Ferguson's Grand Jury Decision The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) points out that police departments act like occupying forces, ...

Country focus

The United States of America, spanning from West coast to East coast of North America is the world's strongest economy with the strongest military power. But beyond its grip on political and economic affairs, the U.S. has one, if not the most, powerful culture machines on Earth, spanning across pop-culture, cinema, music and Television.

With a population of 327 million people, across 50 States, the U.S. struggles with its vast inequality despite immense wealth. Public health is still a concept far away from reality for millions of Americans and gross incarceration prevails – it is estimated that more than 2.9 million citizens are currently locked behind bars, the world's highest rate.

2019 marked the 400 year anniversary of the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, which caused both the immense abuse and suffering of millions of African people, and the unpaid source of America's wealth creation on the back of its slaves.

From the founding of the United States to the abolition of slavery, the Jim Crow laws to the ongoing mass incarceration of Black citizens, racism and structural discrimination prevails and no reparations for slavery have been paid as of today.

With a two-party political system, the left-leaning Democrats and the right-leaning Republicans, and an outdated electoral system, the U.S. is currently battling to preserve its democracy, with extreme right gaining more power and international interference becoming a growing issue.