BLACK LIVES MATTER.
If hearing that phrase triggers an immediate angry or negative response in you, this post is for you. If hearing that phrase makes you immediately reply with “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter,” this post is for you.
I think for the most part, the negative response people have to “Black Lives Matter” is based on ingrained prejudice, and misunderstanding of what it means. When the movement first started a few years ago, my response was also “All Lives Matter.” It wasn’t because I don’t care about Black people. It wasn’t because I consider any race more or less superior. It was TRULY because I believe all lives matter. I try my very best to treat everyone equally and fight against any personal prejudices I have had hammered into me all the time. I believe that every single human life holds the same value, and that’s how I treat people. So in my mind, “All Lives Matter” is what we should be saying. It shows solidarity. It shows that I stand with everyone, including those being mistreated or marginalized. That is what made sense in my mind.
My way of thinking was in no way about hatred or racism. But it was misguided. And it was because I just didn’t truly understand. It took research, and talking to Black people, and reading about it to help me understand what the movement is truly about. And while I will never fully understand what people of color go through every day, I do feel I have a better grasp on it and am continuing to try to understand and help others understand what it’s all about. So in that spirit, let’s break down what “Black Lives Matter” is really all about.
The Black Lives Matter movement began to develop after the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, and not long after, Michael Brown. The movement was started as a call to action in response to police violence and anti-black racism. From the Black Lives Matter website:
“Four years ago, what is now known as Black Lives Matter Global Network began to organize. It started out as a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission was to build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. In the years since, we’ve committed to struggling together and to imagining and creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive.”
Does anything about that mission statement indicate that Black people feel they are MORE important than others? That they want MORE rights and liberties than anyone else? That they hate white people and want to destroy them? No…it most certainly does not. And yet, as white people, we still have this inherent negative response to hearing someone say the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” Why? This is a question we should all be asking ourselves, and really sitting with the answer.
I think to really understand further, we also need to break down the popular phrases used by detractors to this movement.
ALL LIVES MATTER
No shit. I’m sorry…but come on. Does the word “duh” mean anything to you? Of course we all know that all lives matter. No one has said otherwise. I think the real problem here is that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” seems to have an invisible “ONLY” attached to the front of it. Even though no one has ever said ONLY Black lives matter, as white people, that is what we hear. It is on us to understand better and try to really hear what is being said. We have to step outside of our own prejudice and listen with our hearts.
I like to compare Black Lives Matter to a triage situation. If there’s a multi-vehicle car accident, when emergency workers arrive on the scene, who are they going to help first? The ones who are the most badly injured, right? Yes, because even though everyone has an injury, the ones who are hurt the worst take first priority. Just like when you go to the emergency room. If you go to the ER for a broken finger, you’re gonna be sitting there for awhile as people with way worse injuries are assessed first. It doesn’t mean that you and your injury don’t matter. It means that you are not in danger of death at the moment, and others are. So basically what it means is that while we all matter, and all lives are important, Black lives are the ones in a trauma situation right now. They are the ones in the most danger right now. So we need to rally around them and make their lives AS important as everyone else’s. Not more important…equally important.
What is most interesting is that while so many want to call Black Lives Matter racist, the truth is as a country we have always rallied around other groups when they were traumatized. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened, what did we do? We flooded our social media with statements and photos of solidarity. Boston Strong. Does that mean all other cities don’t matter? Same with the Las Vegas shootings, 9-11, Hurricane Katrina, even the Paris bombing, and that wasn’t even in America. We all shared these messages of hope and standing with those who were hurting, and trying to lift them up. Sending supplies and donating money and doing what we could to try to help.
It’s not an either/or thing. When there is a crisis, we rally around that particular group or cause. It doesn’t diminish the value of any other group or cause. It just brings awareness to the help that is needed in that particular situation.
Still not making sense? Try these analogies:
- If your neighbor’s house was on fire, would you ask the firefighters to spray your house too, because “all houses matter?”
- If you were at a fundraising walk for breast cancer, would you shout “all diseases matter?”
- If you were at a birthday party, would you insist they celebrate you because “all birthdays matter?”
Also, if you are going to say “All Lives Matter,” then you have to stick by it. You don’t get to pick when all lives matter. They either do, or they don’t. If you say “All Lives Matter,” then don’t demonize Muslims. If you say “All Lives Matter,” then don’t treat all immigrants like illegals and criminals. If you say “All Lives Matter,” then don’t say gay people should burn in hell. If you’re going to say “All Lives Matter,” don’t celebrate children being held in cages, or say they had it coming because they were brought here by parents trying to escape death. If you say All Lives Matter, then what are you doing to help anyone in crisis? Victims of sex trafficking? Children in foster care? Indigenous women being raped and murdered? The children being held in cages? The homeless veterans? You don’t get to choose who matters and who doesn’t. You cannot say All Lives Matter unless you truly mean it.
Next. BLUE LIVES MATTER
Blue lives are not a thing. Now, before your head explodes, let me say this: I have deep appreciation for police officers. I am grateful they exist. I know that most of them are part of the reason I can sleep safely in my bed at night. I also believe that the corrupt ones give them all a bad name, and need to be held accountable for their actions.
But here’s the thing: Being a police officer is a job. It is not a life. Being a police officer is a choice. They know they have chosen a dangerous profession, and they take that risk willingly because they believe in something. At the end of the day though, that uniform comes off. Saying “Blue Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter” is absurd. You can’t equate the color of someone’s uniform to the color of someone’s skin and champion it for a cause against the Black Lives Matter movement. Police officers get to take off their uniform when they get home. Black people can never take off their skin color. It’s not the same.
It’s also important to recognize this: police officers are upset right now. They’re angry that they are all being judged by the few “bad apples.” That is what Black people face every single day. And even though the shoe is on the other foot now, they still just don’t get it. They’re so mad in fact, that many of them are basically blackmailing the people they’re supposed to be protecting by walking off the job, because they’re upset that fellow officers are being punished for “doing their job.” It is NOT their job to kill the people they are supposed to serve and protect. In fact, their very training teaches them that deadly force is a last resort. It’s time police officers are held to that standard.
Another thing to think about…if you are the person that replies to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter,” and that doesn’t bother you, your real problem here is the word “Black.”
Here’s the reason why it’s so important to say and acknowledge Black Lives Matter: Because they need to matter just as much as everyone else. You want to say all lives matter? All lives can’t matter if Black lives don’t. It’s important to note that while our country was ideally founded on “all men are created equal,” that didn’t include Black people. When they said “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” that didn’t include Black people. At that point in our country’s history, Black people were considered property, not people. And while many things have changed since then, so much racism and hatred and fear towards Black people still remains. The reason we have to say “Black Lives Matter” is because so many people still don’t understand the meaning of the word “All.”
And finally: Black On Black Crime
Again, not a thing. Do Black people kill other Black people? Yes. Do we see that on the news more often than other killings? Yes. Are Black people portrayed in the media as gangsters who just going around killing each other? Yes. But Black on Black crime IS NOT A THING. What that means is, Black people do not kill other Black people BECAUSE they are Black. White people also primarily kill other white people, yet you never hear anything about “white on white crime.” Why? Because the phrase “Black on Black crime” was invented to further demonize Black people and to place blame on them for the things that happen to them. In an op-ed for The Root, Michael Harriot explains it like this:
“According to the FBI’s uniform crime-reporting data for 2016, 90.1 percent of black victims of homicide were killed by other blacks, while 83.5 percent of whites were killed by other whites. While no life is inconsequential, the statistical evidence shows that—just as for blacks when it comes to black-on-black crime—whites are mostly victimized by other whites, with the vast majority of white murders committed by whites. This is because most victims of crime personally know their assailants. And while this is a truth across racial boundaries, no one ever talks about “white-on-white crime.”
Here’s a link to the full article. It’s a great read. https://www.theroot.com/why-we-never-talk-about-black-on-black-crime-an-answer-1819092337?utm_medium=sharefromsite&utm_source=_facebook&fbclid=IwAR0Q67qHkF-XpTVg0iCUnlQBvJToFYFXPIosikgxsZWmnn2Up8pv3ylLdlc
Even though we have made progress as a country, we still aren’t and never have prioritized Black lives as much as we have white lives. White people have a leg up without even trying or knowing it. I heard one person compare it to being left-handed. If you’re trying to use a pair of scissors, it’s going to be harder for you. Even though you may have everything that the right-handed person next to you has, you are automatically at a disadvantage because the scissors were not designed for you. They were designed for right-handed people. You’re already behind through not fault of your own.
It’s in everything. From what we’re taught in school, to what we see in entertainment, to what we see on the news, what we see in our government, and even how we are raised in our communities.
“It’s no accident that: You learned about Helen Keller instead of W.E.B, DuBoisYou learned about the Watts and L.A. Riots, but not Tulsa or Wilmington. You learned that George Washington’s dentures were made from wood, rather than the teeth from slaves. You learned about black ghettos, but not about Black Wall Street. You learned about the New Deal, but not “red lining.”You learned about Tommie Smith’s fist in the air at the 1968 Olympics, but not that he was sent home the next day and stripped of his medals. You learned about “black crime,” but white criminals were never lumped together and discussed in terms of their race. You learned about “states rights” as the cause of the Civil War, but not that slavery was mentioned 80 times in the articles of secession. Privilege is having history rewritten so that you don’t have to acknowledge uncomfortable facts. Racism is perpetuated by people who refuse to learn or acknowledge this reality. You have a choice.”
– Jim Golden
It all comes down to this: As long as we continue to treat Black people as less than, we will continue to have the discourse we are experiencing right now. We must learn to value ALL life a much as our own. We must remember that God created us in His image. We are all human. We all bleed the same color. We must acknowledge and believe that we are all equally valuable no matter what color we are, where we come from, what belief system we have, no matter what. We don’t all have to agree. But we have to value all human life the same. Or we’re doomed. Black people have had enough. They are ready to burn this whole place to the ground just to get equal rights. And I don’t blame them.
So when you hear “Black Lives Matter,” remember this: It’s not about superiority; it’s about equality. No one is asking for more. They’re asking for what the rest of us already have.
And that’s on Black Lives Matter.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is no Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”