“On the Ground”: A Closer Look at Indianapolis 

By Paris Ch. Walton



The #BlackLivesMatter movement became a powerful core in the mist of the Trayvon Martin v. Zimmerman trial in 2012. The acquitted suspect caused an up roar in nearly every home across the Nation. From there the popular hashtag has soared as a collective expression of concern and despair within the Black community, both online and offline. Its impact via social media has made it easily recognizable giving a common voice for all. Cases such as Michael Brown and Freddie Gray have exposed police brutality and shows an example of the media’s bias behavior towards the Black world. Under these circumstances the media creates a divide between the Truth and a lie to protect the authority who are expected to represent the day to day safety of the citizens for the county we live in.

Such a movement however, does not just symbolism violence experienced from the police but also other forms of oppression as well. This can range from racial comments about African American actresses such as Zendaya Coleman, rocking a natural look during the 87th Academy Awards, only to be criticized by hosts of the Fashion Police on the Entertainment Network. Or more heart wrenching ordeals such as innocent lives being lost due their natural gain of melanin and natural sense of prey.

The high fluctuation of stories regarding African American lives plus the struggles faced on a day to day can make such huge claims seem to farfetched for the local eye. Though if we take a second to explore our own communities the issues become much more personal than estimated.


Indianapolis, Indiana. The 13th most populous city in the United States also known as Naptown, for its cozy laidback atmosphere has been no stranger to inequality.  In the past the city has been acknowledged as one of the founding States for the notorious Ku Klux Klan organization. Who in return catered to Black inhabitants as doctors, lawyers, and even educational leaders, meaning the same man who a child trusted to teach math at day could also be the one plotting to end his life at dark.


From there the city experienced the “White Flight” keeping great amounts of African Americans subjective to the inner-city while those of Caucasian decent migrated to suburbs such as Carmel, Fishers, and Avon just to name a few. Even today these places lack diversity giving them an uncomfortable, eerie aura for any minority trying to “enter” their territory. Along with the strange atmosphere “White Flight” areas can give, to make matters worse, it is no secret racial profiling is at a high. To be a Black man in Carmel is to be a Black man in the middle of Germany. You stick out like a sore thumb amongst a crowd of hidden racist and should head home immediately before one is stopped for a minor incident. There have been accords of officers admitting to racial profiling, but similarly to the cases and accounts blared on the television these too go unresolved. To blatantly say one participates in racial profiling takes confidence in accountability, or lack of.

Grasping the idea of death by officer in this State is challenging for one to do until when you realize it is indeed  in your own backyard. On September 26, 2015 social media became aflame from a video released by NowThis showing a mother questioning the death of her 18-year old son who died in police custody. The mother’s grief is one seen time and time again, very familiar until the viewer recognizes that the incident took place on the Indianapolis’ eastside. Terrell Day was a shoplifting suspect who repeatedly announced his inability to breathe while being arrested by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Such a nonviolent crime makes one wonder about how much force and stress is admitted to those facing arrest. Currently, the IMPD is investigating the homicide detectives and crime lab personnel who reported to the scene.


In places of creativity the most political ideas are allowed to spread and be expressed. Here is where you learn the deepest concerns within the Black community. Rather it be issues with their woman to government funding, on the stage is where it is heard. But most common is the effect and harm of oppression suffered by our white counterparts. The inability to control all of our music, the inability to reach straight to the top, the inability to be ourselves without the inevitable “I am Black” feeling constantly roaming in the back of ones mind is the pain felt.

Black artistry is the voice for #BlackLivesMatter in Indianapolis. Without it our anxieties would carry by the wayside. The poets, the rappers, the painters, and singers keep the topic of #BlackLivesMatter an everyday speech that cannot be ignored. This can be done simply by a poet visualizing for its audience a normal day growing up on 42nd and Post, or 10th and Rural just to name a few notable impoverished  areas that many of these talents come from.

However, the issue with Black artistry in Indianapolis, is the fact that it is not mainstream. Our voices and ideas are only being heard amongst each other leaving out the public who could benefit greatly from what is said.

Recently, this has developed further. On September 12, 2015 on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument Circle, one that stigmatizes the hushed racism of the town, located at the heart of downtown local artist participated in an open mic for the all the crowds to see. Such an eclectic group did not see race as the mission but knowledge for the soul. However it should be noted that a young African American male decided against reciting his piece to the crowd focusing on police brutality because of the conflict it could have stirred up.  In Indianapolis events with African Americans as the main audience usually contain an unnecessary amount of police officers, this occurrence being no different.


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Photo of Crowd at LocalMotion Open Mic Sept. 12. 2015

us that live here being heard is a positive development, but it still has a long way to go. We have to invest our time into Black schools, communities, and businesses to further push for equality. Though platforms such as the topic #BlackLivesMatter for the Association of Black Anthropologist young writers and anthropologist have the opportunity to express ourselves more fluidly, even if it is difficult to do so in just 1000 words.



-#PersonalThoughts: It was really nerve wracking to write such a piece, but exciting. I am very shy of what i considered to be my art. Trying to fit my thoughts in only 1000 words was difficult because there is so much to talk about in the Black Community but I hope it is still executed well. I wanted to so desperately discuss the education system but there was no time, plus improvement has been made and effort has been given more recently.


Photo of the Sailors & Soldiers Monument located on Indianapolis’ Circle Downtown taken on Sep. 12, 2015

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