On September 2, 2015, I wrote a blog post which was titled, “Here Is Why I Don’t Support ‘Black Lives Matter’ and Never Will.” In case you are interested, here is the post: https://pplscrt79.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/here-is-why-i-dont-support-black-lives-matter-and-never-will/
At that time, President Obama was still in office. That was also around the period where killings of unarmed black men and black teens began to turn up to the point that they no longer felt like matters of coincidence or isolated incidents.
I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I’m saying here, so I want to be mindful of how I present this. A friend of mine and fellow poet once told me that I should never change the words of my poetry (as I once told her that I wasn’t impressed with one of my works) because that expresses the “season” I was in at that time. I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense.
Often, we want to just erase certain things in our lives that we’ve been wrong about or have ever changed our minds on. But my friend makes a great point in that it is indeed important to remember where we were at certain times in our lives, those “seasons,” so that we could always come back to them, whether it be for the purpose of growth or just general change.
It will be easy (especially for certain black folks) to jump on me to emphasize just how “wrong” I was in my other post, as if me admitting to feeling I was wrong isn’t already in the title. But let’s be clear about something first.
The title does include “I Was Wrong.” But make no mistake…that is an opinion. Opinions are never “wrong.” Where I was at that time was not “wrong.” It is just where I existed and how my thinking was at that period. Being at different places doesn’t necessarily make one place wrong and the other right. Me being “wrong” is still a matter of opinion, as there are people out there who likely would still agree with that previous post.
But let me explain why I’M saying that I was wrong.
Yes, I was guilty of using the infamous “What about black-on-black crime?” as a response. But the more I heard white people use it, the more I learned how dismissive this is, especially as it likely sounded coming from me as well.
It’s no big secret as to the many problems that exist within our community, with killings being high on the list. I cannot speak for everyone else, but I absolutely hate to hear about them. I have never and will never become numb to it. The main issue is that I feel many of those within our community sort of have become numb to what happens every day with us.
So it wouldn’t make sense for us to raise such a fuss when a white person or a cop commits this kind of crime against us, yet still remain “numb” to our own issues. That was largely what my other blog post was about. And it was hard to blame anyone for asking the “black-on-black crime” question when we are as silent as we are about our own issues.
Enter President Donald Trump.
I’ll get right to the point on this one. Trump has been very vocal about crimes and potential crimes committed by people of color. Yet, many crimes (mainly in the form of mass shootings) have been committed by white men and he has said next to NOTHING on just about all (yes, ALL) of those events.
Recently, an armed white male went into a Waffle House in Tennessee and opened fire, killing four people. One brave, unarmed man fought the guy and managed to wrestle the gun away from him before he went on the run (the suspect is now in police custody). The name of the man who did this is James Shaw, Jr., and he is black. Has Trump said a single word about this?
Take a wild guess.
I might be a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them. That is not by coincidence. Mr. President has spoken up far more about people of color in reference to “firing those sons of bitches” (kneeling NFL players) for exercising their FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. That’s right…the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES encouraged a PRIVATE ENTITY to FIRE employees for EXERCISING THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.
The president has a problem with people of color. I won’t even beat around the bush on that. He has made blatant statements that prove this.
And for those white folks who ask “What about black-on-black crime?” that is largely to dismiss. They couldn’t care less what happens within our community with regards to that. Let’s call a spade a spade. It only matters to be used as part of argument in an attempt to shut us down.
In my opinion, what this has led to is a rise in certain members of society (mainly white society) feeling as though he condones or can easily ignore crimes against people of color, as evidenced with the great number of police shootings of unarmed black men, along with being silent on the two innocent black men having been arrested at Starbucks, and the black women of whom the police were called on in a Pennsylvania golf club. The black men and women did nothing wrong in any of these instances.
As for the unarmed black men who have been killed, the most recent was a black man who was actually running away from the police and was shot six times in the back. Six. It doesn’t matter how wrong the man was. Police are TRAINED to not use deadly force unless deemed absolutely necessary. A lot of white men and women out there believe that the instant a crime is committed, it’s open season for police officers, especially when a black suspect is involved. While I’m not an expert on the law enforcement handbook, I’m willing to bet that that isn’t in there. In other words, law enforcement doesn’t have the option to shoot to kill merely as a result of the committing of a crime. That’s what the handcuffs, tasers and additional training is for.
A few years ago, as wrong as it was, this didn’t happen nearly as often as it does today. Trayvon Martin was the first notable instance of when this all really began. It is a little easier to view that as an isolated incident since it didn’t happen (at least to the extent that it made national headlines) as much.
I’m not here to ask what your opinions are of the incidents. I’m not interested in a laundry list of all the things that black people “should have done” to avoid being murdered in all these cases. I’ve heard them all before.
It has become clear that the lives of black people simply do not matter to certain people out there. That’s all there is to it.
When people are not creating excuses for crimes and the calling of police against innocent black people, they are wondering about “the rest of the story” whenever a black person is innocent or those who harass them in some way or, you know…kill them. In other words, some people believe that it isn’t possible for a black person to be innocent, for it to have been wrong to have been killed, or have the police called on them without there having been something more that happened, mainly by way of the black person.
The “more to the story” or the “rest of the story to come out” is basically them looking for what WE did wrong. That’s all.
People have been quick to respond to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter!” or even the copycat “Blue Lives Matter.” Those are dismissive as well.
Here is the main fact that people quick to dismiss “Black Lives Matter” fail to understand.
If you attend a funeral of a loved one, would you be okay with someone coming in a saying, “HEY! MY <relative’s> LIFE MATTERS TOO!” Any decent person would not. Because you attended the funeral of your loved one, that doesn’t take away from how important others’ loved ones are. That goes without saying.
Saying that “Black Lives Matter” does not at all mean that the lives of others do not. But rather than to dig up every instance of someone else who got killed during a crime just for a reason to shut down those who believe in “Black Lives Matter,” you’re arguing a cause that isn’t being fought.
In other words, no one has said specifically that white lives do not matter. That police lives do not matter. That the lives of anyone other than black people do not matter. Police being shot at and/or killed, as tragic as that is, doesn’t automatically remove the stench of racism from our society. But certain folks don’t hesitate to bring up those instances as though people all of a sudden aren’t racist anymore. People can care about multiple things as once, but then that means people don’t take sides, and well…we can’t have that.
Forget those who riot. This isn’t about them. We don’t condone that, so don’t place us in the same category for an excuse to dismiss us further. We often speak up about those as well, but of course, no one sees or hears that.
Of course “All” lives matter. But “all” lives don’t have to worry about many of what we as black people have to face each day, whether you care to acknowledge it or not. People like me don’t need for them to be acknowledged. We know what all we’ve been through and experienced.
It bothers me to see crimes like these committed against ANYONE. I don’t value one life to be above another. I know that ANY of us can be victims at ANY time.
I know that police are being targeted. White people are being targeted. Latinos are being targeted. Muslims are being targeted.
These days, RANDOM people are being targeted. That’s how bad things have become.
But when I look at how society reacts to the innocent killings and the treatment of us as black people, it shows that our lives simply do NOT matter to them. From the drunkest hillbilly to the President of the United States, our lives are secondary to the lives of everyone else. Some have been straightforward in saying this.
That’s right. SOME HAVE SAID IN PLAIN ENGLISH THAT OUR LIVES ARE NOT IMPORTANT.
Just like that.
Or some, like our fearless leader, have said absolutely nothing. Nothing.
Many like to tell us that racism is all in our minds. A lot of people choose to ignore it. That’s fine. We’ve gotten used to the that. It’s really no surprise at this point. Being dismissed is just another day at the office for many of us.
But at least I realize now that in saying that I didn’t support “Black Lives Matter,” I was doing exactly what many others were doing in regards to how our lives were viewed by others. I was dismissing what many other black people were feeling about how our lives were viewed by certain members of our society.
And I was wrong.