Real talk (or Hate facts) about [yourchoice]LivesMatter:
Proponents of the #BlackLivesMatter [BLM] are adamant in the usage of BLM for it is to focus on the disadvantages and suffering black lives; #AllLivesMatter [ALM] is to overlook those disadvantages and suffering that blacks are subject to. These disadvantages and suffering come to black lives at the hands of law enforcement. The BLM keeps the focus that ALM loses. After all, ALM would include everyone, and if the focus is on black lives, then incorporating any other hue takes away from the focus on black lives. To BLM proponents, ALM is deemed not actively, but passively racist.
Firstly, let us look at the amount of suffering at the hands of law enforcement.
In absolute numbers, whites are killed more by law enforcement than are any other race (Swaine et al, 2016). But absolute numbers are overlooked, for as a percentage, blacks are killed at a higher rate (around double the rates of whites) – hence, BLM. Blacks compose 13 percent of the national population, suffering 26 percent of police shootings, but American Indians are only 0.8 percent of the population and suffer 1.9 percent of police shootings (Males, 2014). #NativeLivesMatter does not get the focus BLM gets.
BLM is then to be the [un]happy medium of absolute numbers and percentage of population?
Some say it is a white ‘colorblindness’ to not see the plight of blacks. That it is an example of ‘white privilege’ to overlook the fact that blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites. There is a difference between seeing things in a colorblind manner, and in putting the blinders-of-agenda on one’s face. People cluster, tend to live and grow with those like them, and have a preference for the known and similar. As with benign acts in life, criminal acts generally fall within those clusters – the highest percentage of criminal activity suffered by an ethic group, is by its own ethnic group (Taylor, 2015). If it is truly BLM against law enforcement killing blacks, it should expand to black-on-black crime, as 90 percent of black homicides are committed by black offenders (FBI, 2013). Blacks are a larger percentage of reported offenders for most crimes (Rubenstein, 2016). As such, blacks are more likely to be stopped, but when stopped, they are just as likely as whites to suffer from use of force by Law Enforcement (Miller, et al, 2016). Lastly, it is disingenuous to combine for the sake of inflating numbers, that which should not be paired: Mike Brown was not the same as Eric Garner, just as Alton Stirling was not the same as Philando Castile; there are the differences between an escalation of force versus the abuse of force.
This returns us to BLM vs. ALM. Which is more racist? That one specifically addresses race in its name provides the key factor from which to make a decision. This is the soft, the passive racism reflected in positive focus: this group needs to be elevated first. However, basing it upon an ethnicity for positive regard is no less racist-based than a negative regard – though it may be less malevolent in nature. That is the new face of racism: not denigrating but elevating. With that expected elevation, it overlooks that which is not the elevated type, and where the elevation is not seen gets interpreted as racism by those not elevating.
If your first criterion is the color of skin, then your criterion is by definition racist. But as not the malevolent type, it gets glossed over. However, in the glossing over, events that do not come within the blinders of agenda, get glossed over.
Eric Garner’s pleas as he was choked to death ‘I can’t breathe’ (New York Daily News, 2014) are haunting – his life mattered. Kelly Thomas’ (Truth Be Known Revolution, 2012) pleas as he was beaten to death ‘I’m sorry’ & ‘Dad, they’re killing me!’ are equally haunting – his life mattered. [American Indian] John Williams (PoliceCrimes.com, 2014) carrying a legal knife while carving wood, being shot seven seconds after being approached by police – his life mattered. Chronologically, Thomas’ death was before Garner’s, and that just goes to show whites have been victims of police brutality too, before BLM. Though, as Miller et al (2016) found, neither at a higher rate, and as Swaine et al (2015) found, more whites are killed in total by law enforcement.
There already is a philosophy, a mindset that says all individuals are to be treated humanely and have their rights recognized: it is humanism. Regardless of race, age, sex, or any other superficial characteristic, being a human being means you are to have your human rights recognized. Being black, white, or any other hue is irrelevant. All these subcategories come under the umbrella of humanism, of All Lives Matter. If blacks (American Indians, or any other group) are not being treated fairly, it is by what standard – the standard that all humans are to be treated.
If you want to focus on black lives, that is fine – it is not the malevolent racism that leads to lynchings – if by focusing on black lives is to focus on blacks who have been victimized, and not to begin to victimize the purported victimizers’ race. Looking at groups is to not look at an individual’s humanity.
Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech had the section where it mentioned ‘where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character…’ (King, 2013). Morgan Freeman had an exchange with Mike Wallace (2014), which encapsulates what is truly needed to get beyond racism:
Mike Wallace: How are we going to get rid of racism until…?
Morgan Freeman: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”
Within the terms themselves – BLM and ALM – exist the passive or active exclusiveness and inclusiveness of whose lives are to matter; this can be in order of importance and focus in BLM or equal value in ALM. It is not to overlook the plight of blacks who suffer to say ALM; it is to overlook the plight of whites (and any other ethnicity) who suffer violence equally at the hands of the police, or say that because one is white, they have not suffered disadvantages. A poor white born and raised in the rural areas of Appalachia will have different opportunities (or lack thereof) than a rich white, or a rich black born in Manhattan. Perceived socioeconomic status can override ethnic grouping. The poor are the ones most susceptible to increasing criminalization of behavior, and are subject to more interactions with law enforcement: more behaviors becoming illegal, being unable to pay for fines, getting more fines or arrested for not being able to pay, and then billed for more charges (Dolan & Carr, n.d.). It is actually the State versus the people: authoritarianism versus individualism.
Racism will never be totally eradicated, for there is the soft racism that is part of humanity being group-oriented – having a preference for one’s own clusters, including familial, cultural, and ethnicity. Not actively being against a group, it is not as problematic: help your likes, not harm your dislikes. Ultimately, if you want to combat racism, it is not be enshrining it in a different manner, giving different moral values among people, and further entrenching the division that is to be moved beyond. (White guilt is the reaction of not wanting to be perceived as against-racist, so the opposite is engaged to be elevating racist).
Ultimately, there are two ‘colors’ that should be the focus.
Sweat is clear; blood is red.
Dolan, K., & Carr, J. (n.d.). The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty [PDF]. Washington, DC: Institute for Policy Studies.
FBI. (2013). Murder: Race, Ethnicity, and Sex of Victim by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex of Offender, 2013. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls
Freeman, M. (2014). Morgan Freeman Black History Month with Subtitle. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRnTovm26I4
King, M., Jr. (2013). Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have A Dream Speech. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vDWWy4CMhE
Males, M. (2014, August 26). Who Are Police Killing? Retrieved from http://www.cjcj.org/news/8113
Miller, T. R., Lawrence, B. A., Carlson, N. N., Hendrie, D., Randall, S., Rockett, I. R., & Spicer, R. S. (2016). Perils of police action: A cautionary tale from US data sets. Injury Prevention Inj Prev. doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2016-042023
New York Daily News. (2014). Original Eric Garner fatal arrest video. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfXqYwyzQpM
PoliceCrimes.com. (2014). Police Shooting and Murder of Woodcarver John T. Williams. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn5Glv9nhgE
Rubenstein, E. (2016). The Color of Crime: Race, Crime, and Justice in America [PDF]. New Century Foundation.
Swaine, J., Laughland, O., Lartey, J., Davis, K., Harris, R., Popovich, N., . . . Team, G. U. (2015). The Counted: People killed by police in the United States – interactive. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database
Taylor, J. (2015, July 2). New DOJ Statistics on Race and Violent Crime. Retrieved from http://www.amren.com/news/2015/07/new-doj-statistics-on-race-and-violent-crime/
Truth Be Known Revolution. (2012). This Is What Happened to Kelly Thomas. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1po6Sic5lOU