A Racist Movement Cannot Move

I usually read the letters in your publication and nod in agreement or shake my head in disagreement and move on, but today is not that day.

One regular letter-writer, like many tend to do, has transgressed by way of distorting facts and oversimplification. Put simply, the letter of July 12, 2016, entitled ‘Black Lives Matter is racist!’ was just short of a joke. To say that the Black Lives Matter movement is racist is clearly a misunderstanding of history as well as the reasons it emerged and how the group operates.

If I recall correctly, the group emerged formally out of a twitter hashtag campaign which engendered so much support after a series of high-profile and, dare I say, unjustified killings of young black men; none more glaring than the snuffing out of the lives of Trayvon Martin in Florida and Mike Brown in Ferguson, Ohio. These were the latest in a long history of State excesses against black Americans in the great ’Merica which continues almost unabated. As a response to these atrocities, mainly young black people took the stance that enough is enough.

Now the letter-writer has decided that this group is racist on two main counts:

1) It is not up in arms about the recent killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas; and

2) It should be using "All Lives Matter".

Honestly, I am not even sure which of the two claims is more ridiculous.

Firstly, let’s take an analogy. Would you gate-crash a funeral and tell those grieving, "I too have felt loss"? Or, if there is a breast cancer rally going on, would you interrupt it under the banner of "But people have AIDS too"? No, you wouldn’t.

There are multiple issues that exist simultaneously, and the fact that people are seeking to speak out on matters that are of existential importance to them does not make them racist. Never mind that all official Black Lives Matter operatives I am aware of have cried foul on the murder of the Dallas police officers, which is a fact that is inconvenient to simplistic arguments. The kind of simplistic arguments that do not countenance that we can both denounce the senseless killing of these officers and demand justice and critique law enforcement when they stray into the realm of excess.

Here’s the thing. In the history of the world only black people are asked to tone down or apologise for not accepting atrocities meted out to them. All lives matter, as a mantra, spits in the face of the fact that the history of the United States of America, in particular, shows that the lives of black people have mattered very little.

And, a news flash for the "All Lives Matter" crowd. No one saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ has ever said that

only black lives matter, or that white lives should matter less. It is a simple cry for black lives to matter equally, recognising that until they do, then it is impossible to say all lives matter.

The objective facts are there. Hundreds of people of colour, particularly black people, have died at the hands of the State with impunity. At the same time, several very dangerous white offenders have been in stand-offs with the police that have been skilfully de-escalated so that they can rightly be arrested alive. All lives matter? As an ideal that is like saying the sky is blue, but it is unfortunately not the reality at this time.

Any person who cannot see this is wilfully ignorant of history and facts.

Even worse, the writer goes on to compare the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Lives Matter movement, saying black groups "promoting the interests of black people" are no different from those "promoting the interests of white people". Anyone who wishes to explicitly or implicitly define the Ku Klux Klan as a group "promoting the interests of white people" and at the same time equating Black Lives Matter and, by subtle implication, the long list of past black civil rights organisations, cannot and should not be taken seriously on this matter. Do we honestly believe that lynching people and burning crosses on their front lawns were simply all a part of protecting the "interests of white people"? Gimme a break!

I am tired of seeing black people forced to apologise for asking — and when fed up, demanding — to be treated as human beings. If that is the new definition for racist, sign me up and ship me my Black Lives Matter T-shirt.

cunning1jm@yahoo.com

Source : http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Black-Lives-Matter-movement-racist---gimmeabreak_67015

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