The ignorance of an individual
Ignorantia juris non excusat — is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its content.
Recently, I was called out on Instagram for a comment I made regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. I had been asked what my view was on racism, and responded with All Lives Matter. I believed that it was an innocent response; there were no malice or hatred thoughts when I replied. At a fundamental level, I consider all humans to be equal irrespective of your creed or colour, we all have the right to be treated equally no matter what.
Shortly after responding, I received a voice note from a close friend. Never have I heard him with so much hurt in his voice. Listening to the emotions of a grown man on the verge of tears, frustrated and angry, I knew there was something wrong with the comment I had made. He informed me that by using that particular phrase, I was aligning myself to what is, in essence, a racial dismissal and ignorant denial of black lives.
Over the next few days, I received several messages from my black friends saying that I was wrong to be thinking and using the phrase All Lives Matter, while we would still be friends I needed to educate myself. When numerous close friends tell you to go and educate yourself, it comes as a shock. “What do I need to be educated on?” “Why do I need to be educated?” “No, I don’t. I know enough about the topic.” Egotism can be blinding.
“The mistake is believing that racism is a sliding scale from ‘not bad’ to ‘unacceptable’ — any form of racism anywhere is a threat to someone’s existence and can never be trivialised.” — David.
In the content being shared, I felt there were undertones of Black vs white and that I was stuck in the middle. By staying silent on the topic, I would be considered to be siding with the All Lives Matter, and criticised for being racist, if I did speak up, it would be for Black Lives Matter. In reality, I was caught up in semantics. A writer pointed out that Black Lives Matter in no way stipulates that all lives do not matter. In a battle of logic and reason, the argument should end there. Unfortunately, we live in a time where people don’t reason objectively, and instead, formulate points as a means of reaching a predetermined conclusion.
If I am honest, it has been hard to come to terms with my ignorance. The pain that my friend expressed when he sent me that message is an emotion that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. To say to him “I’m sorry, I didn’t know” is hard when it is ultimately the truth.
I should have known better.
My recount is just one example of how ignorant we currently are. A father was murdered on national television, in front of our eyes, and we consume it like murder porn as if it's business as usual. If I am making this error, then it’s likely that there are millions of others doing the same thing.
We must not allow history to continue repeating itself. We must eradicate the thought crimes that individuals commit. At a fundamental level, equity in society must exist so we can truly be equals.
“We must not be naive. Racism in the U.K. still hinders many of our lives.” — Ademola
Below are just a few resources I have come across to educate myself; I would ask you to do your research as well.