by S.A. Prince
Activist Stockley Carmichael once made this statement in regards to the Black Power movement:
“Now, we have two psychological battles that we are fighting against white folks. We won one. They told us we should hate Malcolm X. We dumped that. Thank God. Now, the second battle we are now fighting is whether or not we will have the right to use the terms to decide how our movement is going to go. They don’t want us to use Black Power. I have news for them. Cause what Black Power was supposed to do was to start to bringing black people together under a slogan that everyone understood, but what in fact it has done is organize white people and their Negro allies.”
The latter part of Carmichael’s statement still rings true over 40 years later. #BlackLivesMatter is a slogan that has brought not only black people together, but also those who would oppose and condemn the idea behind it. #BlackLivesMatter sprung up as a response to police aggression against blacks.
Now, police aggression and oppression against blacks are real things, but they are more so a byproduct of social conditions as oppose to ill-harbored intent on the part of police officers. When I say social conditions, I am referring to the setting conditions of the environments and neighborhoods they have to patrol. Think about these stats from a 2014 year-end NYPD Crime Report and how they affect policing: 92% of all violent crime in New York City is committed by non-whites. 98% of all shootings are committed by non-whites, and non-whites make up 91% of all illegal gun arrests.
At the same token, if what the minority officers from the NYPD say is true, and that quotas are indeed forced on police, then that also influences police aggression against particular groups. The atmosphere shifts from protecting and serving, to hunting.
What must be primarily understood is that police have a life experience much different than the normal human being, and because of that irregular experience irrationality can easily arise. I don’t care who you are. Responding to a call to neighborhoods where 92% of all violent crime occurs is without a doubt going to affect you. Police officers don’t need further training as many #blacklivesmatter activists are asserting, rather they need more built in rest and psychological care.
Therefore, out of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, whether it be based in objectivity or not, arose a response from the rest of the country, not new but one similar to that of the Black Power movement. #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, #PoliceLivesMatter. All over the country, those who oppose the premise of #BlackLivesMatter took to their computers in support of any opposing group regardless of how mean-spirited and vitriolic their premise for existence may have been, their sole purpose seemingly being to take a side and divide as oppose to seeking unity with black America.
While the group #BlackLivesMatter is indeed politically biased, the main problem here is that most non-whites are failing to see the difference between #BlackLivesMatter and black lives matter. This disconnect plays a substantial role understanding in preventing any racial discourse that could lead to unity.
When somebody says black lives matter, they likely are not making reference to the social justice movement called #BlackLivesMatter, but is asserting a desire to be emotionally understood in a society that is policed without regard to racial prejudice. It is impossible to stamp out prejudice, because in-part it is our fear and our stereotypes that serve as a protector to us. The inability for America to discuss this is a disservice to all Americans regardless of what side of the racial argument they fall on, and this silence will not lead to any progress. As long as we lack the willingness to invest the emotional energy and time into addressing the experience of an entire segment of Americans, perceived or legitimate, then we essentially muzzle them, eventually tuning them out and becoming hardened to any opinions but our own.
The days where our only desire was to hear our opinions repeated in a different voice must cease. Black Lives do Matter. It’s much deeper than a catchy hashtag going viral.