On December 16, 1773, at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston Massachusetts, a political protest was held against Great Britain called The Boston Tea Party. American colonists were frustrated with the high taxes imposed on their imported goods from Britain. Thus the phrase “taxation without representation” was coined.
Prior to the December 1773 protest, fights broke out between the colonists and British soldiers. The colonists were tired of seeing the soldiers on the streets. On March 5, 1770, colonists and British soldiers got into a brawl which would be later known as the Boston Massacre. This led to five colonists killed and six wounded. Despite Britain’s concessions on the imposed taxes, the colonists were still dissatisfied. A group of colonist men (dressed up in Native American attire) boarded British ships and threw 45 tons of tea overboard (today it would be worth nearly 1 million dollars). This act set the stage for the American Revolution.
Similar to the Boston Tea Party, Black people are tired of being taxed without representation. This country has been built on the free labor of Black people. Even our culture has been exploited for monetization. As slaves we were seen as ⅗ of a human and even today we are still combating narratives that dehumanize us. When Black people are murdered, the media represents us in a negative fashion to make viewers less sympathetic. “He shouldn’t have been selling loose cigarettes!” (Eric Garner 2014). “She should have just complied with the officer’s request!” (Sandra Bland 2015). “But the 20 dollar bill was counterfeit!” (George Floyd 2020). We’ve reached a boiling point in this country where we demand our voices to be heard.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Riots are the voice of the unheard.” Black people feel systematically neglected because our requests are usually swept under the rug. Since Floyd’s murder, there have been global uprisings in support of Black Lives Matter. Police stations, restaurant franchises, and retail stores have been burned down because of the injustices that have taken place against Black Americans. American citizens have made demands to defund police departments and ban choke holds. States like California have created a task force to explore the option of paying reparations which are long overdue to the descendants of enslaved Africans. Businesses are starting to review their leadership teams by recognizing the lack of diverse/Black representation. Companies are starting to ask how they can support the Black Lives Matter movement? Though acknowledgment of systematic racism is welcomed it is also long overdue. It will take years of continued conversations, policy reforms, and new practices to help America reach its highest ideals that we have been sold for so long.
As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we are reminded of the contributions of Black people in this country. The history of this country has proven that uprisings and protests are a driver for change. Americans may not agree on methods of change, however, it is my hope that this movement galvanizes a shared enthusiasm to fight against white supremacy.