Black lives matter.
Those three words have sent shockwaves through our society. For some, it was the clear and concise hashtag that encapsulated all of the frustration of a community not seeing the justice in the justice system, it was the succinct declaration for the unification of a movement. But for others, it was a declaration of war, a race war. Somehow believing that by stating that black lives matter it must naturally mean that other lives did not.
It has often been said that the thing that scares white supremacists the most is an educated black (wo)man. But we know that isn’t true because an educated black (wo)man can be harassed, abused, and slain on the road side while wearing a suit and tie just like an uneducated one with his pants sagging. The idea that being educated or being dressed a certain way would insulate us from injustice is an outcropping of respectability politics that we have long held to. Hoping against hope, that if we just prove ourselves not to be animals that one day we would see the ever-elusive equality promised to the citizens of this country. What we have found is that when you are educated you are treated as some aberration of nature. “You aren’t like other black people” is what we hear from the white community and “You act white” is what we hear from inside our own communities. The real fear is that of a well-organized group of educated and fearless black people.
Dating back to the Black Codes of the south, there has always been a fear of black people organizing and mobilizing. There is strength in numbers. And any resistance to the slow, methodical culling of PoC is seen as a threat to the fabric of society. We haven’t come as far as we imagine. Because a narrative based on the self-fulfilling behaviors and language of an oppressive system creates statistics that refuse to look deeper into its bigoted roots. Only the names have changed the tactics remain the same.
In today’s world, many love to evoke the image of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the standard by which protesters of today should model themselves while leaving out, either on purpose or through ignorance, that Rev. King faced the same accusations leveled at the Black Lives Matter Movement.
There will never be a proper way in the eyes of the oppressor to overthrow his oppressive reign. Smearing the names of the victims is a tried and true technique that diverts the attention away from the humanity of those unfairly and unjustly slain. But with political movements for equality we see time and time again where the oppressor demonstrates the most heinous and horrifying acts in the name of a self-proclaimed authoritarian position that allows a carte blanche ticket to abuse, rape, and murder.
The vilification of the #blacklivesmatter movement is nothing new. This is the same tactic that was used against the Black Panthers, and the lingering effects tarnished a legacy that causes many people who don’t know the history to evoke the name in debates as being nothing more than the Ku Klux Klan with black people.
There is a purposeful misconstruing and “misunderstanding” of what Black Lives Matter means and that is driven by the elite of the status quo. If all lives had truly mattered there never would have been a reason to proclaim that black lives matter. We need to keep shouting it, wearing it, hashtagging it until the system responds appropriately. We must not be deterred by the slandering of those victimized to legitimize the lawless slaughter of our people.