There has been a great deal of controversy over the Black Lives Matter movement (#BlackLivesMatter), especially in recent weeks, with highly publicized cop shooting deaths of black men and police killings, during a peaceful and joint march for solidarity. With this controversy has come the spattering of complaints about the BLM movement across the nation, as inciting even more violence. People have been calling the movement racist by its very existence. So that leads us to the problem with the Black Lives Matter movement, just as it pertains to our country. We won’t comment on the movement’s interactivity among other countries. Let’s therefore outline the problem with the Black Lives Matter movement in our society and how it may be fixed. The problem with the BLM movement can be reduced down to one simple word: perception. This problem of perception is one that is inherent to anyone that is not of African American descent or that can be or is determined by society to be a black person. To be completely transparent, these words are not being penned by an African American resident black person. So this viewpoint of the problem with perception is coming from someone that is trying to understand the true nature of the struggle and empathize, but still understands that I will never truly understand the struggle. I can only stand on the outskirts of the BLM movement with hopeful discernment and heart filled support. We should first start with a basic definition of what the Black Lives Matter movement means to Black Americans, as stated on the official website:
Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
So going with that as a defining point of the underlying emotion of the movement, we see it is rather direct and poignant. It is direct in that it explains in plain English that this movement is to address the blatant targeting of Black lives in America. And it’s poignant because it announces the cries of all those black lives in distress and the negligence of the society, in which they live, to recognize them as equals and strong members of society. Nothing in the statement above mentions the struggles or plight of any other race, nor does it place blame or impugn the integrity of any other race. So why is it that the movement, as a whole, or its very existence, has seemed to invoke race baiting and lashback from, oh let’s say, whites, because it is not inclusive enough of the rest of society? Perception.
LIVE IT TO CRITIQUE IT
Unless you live the struggle, you can not be a true member. You can be a supporter. But to be a member, you have to have the experience. I have experiences that make me a member of groups that others are not a member of. Black activists are bringing attention AGAIN to an ongoing problem this country has had since before its birth. It is a past it now wishes it never had. Regardless of the ignorance of some that are trying to hold on to old and hateful ideas, most of society recognizes the heinous past the Black lives in America have experienced. We are going to get to that outline, and why Black lives in America are slightly different than other minority groups, in a minute, but please let the former sink in. Black Lives Matter is only a new title for a very old struggle. And no matter what label you put on the struggle, it is evident that it is not over and probably even more evident is that it has gotten worse. The young black lives that are being hunted today are lost souls in a society that gave up on them before they were born. Aside from becoming a commodity for the criminal justice system, they have become a scapegoat for a more militarized police force.
BLACK LIVES IN AMERICA
We are going to travel quickly through the annals of history, just for the sake of time. There is so much more to the history of the Black struggle in America, than will be even touched on here, so please don’t feel important information is being left out. This will be an attempt to recap the essence of the plight to date, in order to dismiss the perception that non-Black Americans may have. Consider the relationship Black people have distinctively to the United States, over any other ethnic group. While it is true that slavery was not limited only to African Americans before union independence, the largest majority of slaves were from Africa and for the most part, were otherwise content back at home. If we compare the introduction of Anglo culture to Native Americans and Mexicans, who also have suffered from the inception of the invasion of Europe, we see a strong distinction, that leaves them unique. Not only did the Europeans inhumanely enslave Black lives, they set them on a path to failure from the very beginning. Remember the sentiment that an educated slave is dangerous? So therefore, they did all they could do in those days to keep black lives from learning to read for fear of independence and revolt. It is a high parallel to the restriction of the translation of the Bible by the Roman Catholic Church centuries ago. These were not people that were already living here that got pushed off of there land and murdered and massacred–but still managed to fight back. These weren’t people that the government went to war with to capture land, pushing their borders further south but still leaving them a border of their own. These were not even mistreated immigrants that floated over here for a better life and got worse. These were human beings that were purposefully ripped from their homes and land, where they lived free. They were humiliated and forced into slavery, under terrible conditions. They never had any land here to be given back, so they can build a bunch of casinos and pass the money out. And they were abandoned after the civil war, basically to fend for themselves, in a land that they were no longer welcome in, the South, and a country that still didn’t give them full rights. By all rights, this land is just as much their land as it is any white man’s land. And by land, I mean country, not physical ground. No whites were indigenous to this land. They came here. Native Americans are more closely related to African Americans than Anglo-Saxons are, in terms of DNA mapping. But we won’t get geeky scientific here. Let’s continue the principled struggle through to the early 20th century, less than 100 years ago…nay less than 50 years ago.
BLACK LIVES CIVIL RIGHTS
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in April 1968, during the height of the civil rights movement. For decades, King and his associates and supporting groups and members fought unthinkable odds to get some of the most basic human rights. I want you to think about that for a minute. Only about a half a century, 5 decades, 50 years, there were still places in the United States that segregated Black People from white people. In the following years, blatant racism lightened up due to the Flower movement and the coming together over resisting the Vietnam War. So blatant racism had been let’s say, sweep under a throw rug. Even though the War on Drugs had “officially” started under Nixon, the war in Vietnam took the headlines. That is until the 1980’s. The decade of the 80’s brought in a new stern republican President and a first lady hell bent on fighting drugs. From New York to L.A., gang violence and police engagement skyrocketed. Crack had found its way into urban America and had planted itself firmly in the middle of the poverty stricken black communities. Disenfranchised by a broken economy, black gang members became the central focus of the game of cat and mouse, between law enforcement and the world of illegal drugs, and the money it produced. Young black men could make more in one week, than they could in an entire year at a regular job. They had no other skills, from a lacking educational system, poor community service programs, no food and bad living environments. Every day, however, was like walking through a war zone. Through the 1990’s, under the guise of a democrat in the white house, we found that his and his wife’s neo-Liberal policies on criminal justice and welfare programs would lead us down a path of what is an even worse place to be in, as a Black person in America today. What we have seen, over the last 50 years, is a systematic destruction of an entire group of Americans. First, our society ALLOWS communities like ghettos and projects to even exist. To let people fall so far behind society that they live in obvious and direct poverty is beyond appalling. But to allow it to become part of the norm of society is unacceptable. To look at the horrific acts that took place in Flint Michigan with the water and not find it criminal is evidence of the BLM complaint. Of course this started in Flint many years ago, with the trade agreements that allow the factories to go overseas. It all adds up to the most disenfranchised group of people in the country suffering even more. More and more, we have seen the blatant killing of INNOCENT black men and women through the advent of technology, irrefutably showing the unfair treatment of Black lives by many in law enforcement. And the numbers don’t lie about the overwhelming disproportion of black lives in prisons. It is not because they are “more prone to violence”, as one retired NYPD chief said on CNN. It is that they have fewer options right out of the womb, in this country. To go from not counting as a human at all. Then to be considered as 3/5 of a person, by the federal government. And then to be separated from others, based on color. And now to be unfairly demonized to the point of justifying improper police and criminal justice activity. The Black Lives Matter movement is not racist. It is a cry out to fellow humans to STOP the mistreatment. It is a call to arms for all those that have walked the streets in fear because they are Black lives. This movement is more than a call for equal rights. This passioned unity and show of force is driven by a much worse culprit than even denying a person a seat on a bus. It is driven by shamelessly taking the lives of other human beings. It is to state that ignoring the needs of Black members of society will no longer be tolerated or, worse, accepted. The only problem with the Black Lives Matter movement is your own perception. If you think it is racist, chances are you feel guilty for being racist or for not doing enough to stand up against injustice, when you know you should have. If you feel the problem is that they are excluding other races, then unless you yourself are a black life, you can not complain about the plight of others. If you have a plight of your own, then you may start a movement of your own. Of course the people in the Black Lives Matter movement, its supporters, organizers, volunteers and others all know that ALL lives matter. That isn’t the point. The point is that Black Lives in American feel like they don’t matter. And we have to address that with our brothers and sisters. We can not have an entire group of people that live among us feel as though they don’t belong. And if they are standing up and saying something about it, then we have to listen. And then we have to ACT. I guarantee you the term will go away once Black Lives Matter, and our society shows it in actions.