You’ve probably heard about Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant, and most recently Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. But they’re not the only people of color killed by the police in recent weeks.
In the same week that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by police, so were Latinos Pedro Villanueva, 19, and Anthony Nunez,18. Pedro Villanueva was fatally shot down by police in Fullerton, California for failing to pull over after he was flagged down by an unmarked police car. Anthony Nunez was fatally shot by officers, who had been called in to intervene with Nunez’s suicide attempt. And these are just two of countless of Latinx (Latinx is the gender neutral alternative to Latino/Latina) yet to be recognized as victims of police brutality.
As a young Latina, I believe these young men also deserve our attention and outrage, but I’m hesitant to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve seen a lot of people in the Latinx community exclaim #brownlivesmatter, criticizing the fact that many Black Lives Matter activists don’t put the same emphasis on police violence against brown people. But the way I see it, that’s not their job. We must create our own movement — #LAGENTEUNIDA.
#LaGenteUnida is a recently formed hashtag (and hopefully soon, a movement) that outlines the injustices against the Latinx/Chicanx community. It’s different than saying #brownlivesmatter, which brings attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement. #LaGenteUnida does not piggyback onto the work Black Lives Matter activists have already done. Instead, #LaGenteUnida will be ours — all Latinx– straight, queer, cis, trans, able-bodied and disabled. When Central American immigrants are being murdered and raped on U.S. borders, we stand against that as #LaGenteUnida. When 5 million undocumented families are left hanging and vulnerable with a deadlocked SCOTUS ruling, we will fight as #LaGenteUnida. When state sanctioned murders take away Pedro Villanueva, Anthony Nunez, Melissa Ventura, Jessica Hernandez, Antonio Zambrano Montes, Ruben Garcia Villapando, Marcel Ceja, and countless others, we call for justice in the name of #LaGenteUnida.
So rather than being resentful towards #BlackLivesMatter for not including Latinx, let’s focus on the system itself. When outrage is directed towards fellow oppressed people instead of the oppressors we take a dangerous step away from justice. If we want to shed light to the injustices against our community we have to be willing to do the work too. Let’s organize, protest, and use our own voices — and hashtags — to speak out.
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON Youth Radio IN AUGUST.