The “Black Lives Matter” movement has been deemed an instrumental campaign in raising the awareness of the constant devaluation of black lives by those in positions of power—namely, those in law enforcement. It has in some ways sparked a long overdue dialogue between lawmakers and political constituents and has been viewed as a vehicle for political change.
In my opinion however, this movement seems to be nothing more than a reference to prior movements complete with your localized “answers” to Angela Davis, Huey Newton, Marcus Garvey, and Dr. Martin Luther King.
This movement has been grossly exploited and used as an opportunity and platform for narcissistic individuals to grandstand and espouse their own agendas. Some have used this movement to market their merchandise and get their own name in the headlines. They have used it to add credibility to their teaching degrees and are only concerned about the legacies they will leave behind as opposed to the lives that are being swallowed up every day by the intolerable abuses of power perpetrated by those whose supposed mission is to serve and protect. This movement is full of so-called activists and these “actorvists” have become civil rights caricatures who throw a fist in the air simply because it’s fashionable. It’s as though being a revolutionary rebel is now in vogue. Being “down for the struggle” suggests one has principles and values and actually stands for something when for our generation, that couldn’t be any farther from the truth. As a black and Puerto Rican male, some would wonder why I would opt out of such an important movement considering it is very relevant to my life. Here are six reasons why:
REASON #1: Because Black Lives Don’t Even Matter To Black People.
There is a part in the movie The Josephine Baker Story where Josephine Baker (played by the incomparable Lynn Whitfield) becomes very vocal about the civil rights of black people. She is vehemently disturbed by the blatant mistreatment of black people in the US and expresses her discontent openly. Then one day as she is leaving her hotel room, exhausted yet motivated to support the struggle, she overhears two black hotel attendants violently criticize her efforts to help the cause. This is when she decides that the US is no longer her home and that the mistreatment of black people in the US is not her fight. This is when she discusses her decision with her husband and begins her long trek back to Paris.
What happened in that movie is exactly what is happening today. We are the only race of people who do not fully support our own. We continue to struggle for unity and acceptance from every other race but our own. We are a people always reaching to be deemed worthy in the eyes of another race and have even denied our own features. We have traded in our uniqueness and watered down our soul just to fit in to European molds and I have learned that as long as we continue to seek validation from other cultures, we will always be a target! I am tired of removing targets off our backs while unevolved blacks continue to reapply them with the self-defeating paint of self-hatred. It’s an exercise in futility.
REASON#2: Because the intellectualized rhetoric spewed during rallies, protest marches, and die-ins does nothing to address the institutionalized racism that still exists today.
We are constantly hearing words. Words, words, words! But there is no real change, only new forms of sophisticated racism which mask the intent of the master while we are still continuing to be enslaved. Instead of using ropes to hang black people, legislators are using laws and chalk outlines all designed to keep us in line. Instead of swinging from trees, we are learning new choreography on how to hold our hands up, how to speak to the police, and how to behave as though WE are the problem. These victim-blaming techniques are the problem causing black people to once again be assaulted by a race-related zeitgeist, a worldview that paints black people as dark, dangerous enemies of America. All these words and speeches do is raise hopes that are the equivalent of false promises. They are nothing more than politicized hype that on the surface feels nice but does nothing to address the devaluation of black lives.
REASON#3: Even after expanding our awareness and consciousness via college classrooms and avant-garde movie houses, we still have to return to our regularly scheduled racism.
In college, I took a Classism, Racism, Sexism course. The course was taught by a white professor who challenged us to look beyond our world and outside of our lens and peer into the lenses and worlds of other cultures and classes. This course was often times a sensitive trigger for white guilt, black rage, feminist angst, and classist clashes. Basically, we all walked into a fiery cauldron when we walked through that door and it was the hope of our professor that once our perceptions were burned down and tested, we would walk out of that classroom polished, enlightened, and somehow changed. And we did, for a while. That was until we satisfied our course requirements. Then it was back to the reality of our comfort zones and our skewed perceptions. This is the irony of raising awareness. Eventually it graduates to lowered expectations meaning we have to return to the same idiotic behaviors and beliefs that we know better than to believe. But sadly, knowing and understanding are two different propositions entirely.
REASON# 4: Because “The master’s tools can never be used to dismantle the master’s house.” —Audre Lorde
We still operate from the same documents, principles, traditions that our ancestors operated under. The Constitution still is exhibited under secure glass and implicitly celebrated as some historically viable document when really it was a hate letter to black Americans. For a while it honored slavery and unequal concentrations of power. Look at our current president. He had to bolster his white heritage to win the election and yet somehow we take his inauguration as a sign that things have changed. Get real! The same tactics and tools that got him elected are the very tactics and tools that are problematic in this war on saving black lives.
REASON# 5: Because black lives only matter when it’s convenient.
Tell me, did black lives matter when I was left fatherless? When black wives were left husbandless? When brown babies were killed in abortion clinics? When black boys and men were complicit in the murdering of their own brethren? When they contributed to the statistics and the drug epidemics selling to kids and their drug-addicted parents? When black men were the subject in various experiments? When they were HIV-infected by someone with the same skin as them? Did black lives matter then?
REASON# 6: Because the only thing that’s going to make black lives matter is not an appeal to our nation’s consciousness but our surrender to a higher consciousness, God.
I believe that the only thing that can address the ills of this world is God. I know that in this politically correct day and age we live in we have to remove God from every aspect of life because the mention of his name might be offensive to those who are atheists, agnostic, or just plain undecided. But it is my PERSONAL belief that the only one that can address the gross injustice perpetrated against black people is God. He can do it in a way that will not lead to an imbalance in another aspect and he can make it so that black lives are seen as all lives because whether you are black, brown, red, yellow, green, or psychedelic blue, at the end of the day we are all still human. And that is what we need to really start understanding.