Let me preface this article with a disclaimer as some of you may not like what I’m about to say, but that is okay. That is the reason for this platform, to ignite various perspectives, conversations and invoke meaningful discussion.
Is it just me or is anyone else confused by the #BlackLivesMatter movement? I mean seriously, if you ask anyone who claims to be (not even affiliated with the official organization, but) “down for the cause”, you’ll probably get several different answers to what the movement is really about.
As stated online, the #BlackLivesMatter movement was originally intended to promote equality and justice, according to the organization’s official website. Additionally, the network advocates for dignity, respect, and dialogue among Black people.
“We are the movement for black lives. We will not allow ourselves to be divided”– BlackLivesMatter.com
The shooting deaths of black men by white police officers that occurred this month have sparked outrage, to a peak that it hasn’t been in recent years, primarily in the black community.
Thus far in 2016, there were an estimated 123 presumably unjustified killings in the black community by on-duty officers, based on a tally by The Washington Post. In that same span of time, there have been more than 300 homicides involving black men in the Chicago area alone, according to dnainfo.com.
Black people will say, in an attempt to justify “the movement” that the cause surpasses black men and women being killed by white officers in blue uniforms but encourages better relations within our own communities. White people will ask (and rightfully so), then why did the movement just begin when blacks were killed by white officers?
As black people, we get so defensive when anyone questions the movement that we automatically respond with harsh criticism. And all they legitimately want to know is “Why now?”
My questions to the spokesperson(s) and celebrities, such as The Game and Snoop Dogg who have recently been vocal on the subject, are this: If black lives really matter, then when did they start to matter enough to begin a movement? And are you more concerned with black lives or black deaths? And has this always been the case? It seems that this entire movement began with the onset of white on black crime. When the harsh reality is that black on black crime would seem to be a more critical concern within our communities.
Surely there have been movements and protests alike to end black on black crime, gang violence & more, but it quickly wanes away until the next brother is found dead in the street. Then people may get wired up again. White people and some blacks are asking the question that ignites many emotions but never really warrants an answer from black people, “why did it take white on black crime for the movement to become a national ordeal?” Why didn’t black lives matter enough to black lives when they were soaring at rates that have already surpassed last year’s ending homicide toll on Chicago’s south side, not to mention the rest of our country. Black men, women and children die every day at the hands of other blacks and no one marches for them. No one protests for them. And yet, we are seeking while chanting the very words “no justice, no peace”. That, to me, is the most injustice of all. I understand that the men and women in uniform who took oaths to protect and serve us are held to a higher standard, as they should be. But the lives of those who have died, whether by the hands of an officer or by a brother in our neighborhood should all be held with the same regard. And justice should be served for all.
To my proud race of Black Americans, we must engage in practices to end our own oppression. We must stop looking for ways of being victimized but rather vindicated. We must not act belligerent while interacting with law enforcement. If we truly know our rights, then it would be wise to utilize them, beginning with the first one: to remain silent at the onset of arrest. I am not suggesting that you silence your voice, but silence your anger. Silence the combative nature that is embedded on our pride.
“Silence the ignorance and intolerance and inferiority within ourselves.” -DeJa K. Johnson
Far too long, we have remained oppressed not by the physical restraints of white officers and white people in our nation but by the intangible ones on the tablets of our mind. If the #BlackLivesMatter movement is an attempt at the liberation of black folks, then who didn’t get the memo that we are already free, contrary to the misconception of some. We are blessed to be citizens of the freest nation in the world, in terms of civil liberties, religion and love. The conflict of the degree to which we are granted these freedoms lies within the difference of opinions and perceptions from each other.
Sometimes it seems that we are more comfortable hiding under the umbrella of oppression of the white man because it gives us an excuse for failure and defeat. The reality is that we all, in many ways, hold ourselves captive by our own narrow way of thinking.
“At some point, we must hold ourselves and our people to the same standards of accountability as we do everyone else.”
This does not damper the fact that excessive force and bad judgment by a select few servicemen have led to the untimely, unfortunate and unjust deaths of many men and women, and this issue absolutely needs to be addressed and appropriated.
A soft tongue turns away wrath. The Bible also tells us that every man should be “swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath”.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not even sure how the words peaceful and protest go in the same sentence. By definition, the word 'protest' has roots of dissention. How does that solve anything?
I am deeply saddened by the lives that have been lost during the turmoil of racial divide within our nation. Equally, I’m disappointed by the continued perpetuation of similar divisived efforts from my own race, even though they may been birthed with good intent.
“The solution is not to abolish the police. Just like not all black people are guilty, neither are all law enforcement officers.”
In all honesty, however, at this very moment, I stand divided with my own thoughts on opposing ends of the same pole in my view of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The reality is that there is room for the movement because inequality and racism do exist, excessive force and police brutality have been prevalent and racial profiling continues. But the idea that black lives only began to matter in 2012 (the founding year of the official Black Lives Matter organization) after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin is a slap in the face to the countless black lives that expired before and since that time at the hands of other black lives. That is the real issue that no one seems to want to discuss. That’s the issue that white Americans and black Americans such as myself are also having. It's the sense of hypocrisy when a black life ends at the hands of a white man, meanwhile, we are killing each other every day, including today in my own hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The answer is not only a protest but a Reformation. Not just a #BlackLives movement, but also a #UnityMovement. Instead of merely organizing marches and yelling chants, we must also exercise compassion for our fellow man, every man. We must engage in meaningful dialogue with our city and state officials. We must be informed and execute the duty to educate our communities on not just our rights, but also our limitations of the law. This movement of which we speak requires so much more than "peaceful" protests which have escalated to vandalism, riots, increased racial tension, derogatory marks on our criminal records and our loved ones having to piece together bail monies. We all have a part to play in this. We all can do better including participants of the movement, celebrities and public figures, our government, our media, and our individual selves. No one can do everything but anybody can do something. What will you do?
#OneNation #UnderGod #INDIVISIBLE #WithLiberty&Justice4All
Anger breeds anger. Hate breeds hate. And ignorance, well…. You know the rest.