Hate or Hashtag?
A white friend, who I like and admire, recently posted a picture on her Facebook page of a police officer holding a sign saying #AllLivesMatter, more specifically, #PoliceLivesMatter. Ahhhh, duh. I consider this person well-read and in touch with the world in which we live in, so I was disappointed that she would post something so provocative. The picture and the sentiment itself isn’t incendiary, it’s the ideology behind it. Let me explain. I wanted to comment on the picture with scathing a retort, a response destined to incinerate her timeline. Instead, I checked my initial impulse and thought of ways to turn the post into a teachable moment. Not only for her but for everyone who doesn’t understand what it means to be black in America or who view the #BlackLivesMatter campaign as a poorly-disguised hate group.
I envisioned myself having a party at my home, inviting all my clueless friends and schooling them on the basics of what it means to be black, i.e. “Blackness 101.” In this classroom masquerading as a dinner party, I would make it clear that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is NOT a competition about whose life is more valuable. It’s a cry—a cry for help, acknowledgement, recognition, mercy, and peace. It’s a lament, a mourning-call, a shout into the darkness of inhumanity.
To say all lives matter is ludicrous. ALL, as it’s used in main-stream and social media is a euphemism for white. No one is debating or denying the value and worth of white lives (or police lives). People should, and do, value them. The proof is in the outcry that ensues when someone white is harmed or killed. There is a demand for retribution when a non-black person becomes a victim of some senseless act of violence. No one questions the circumstances behind such tragedies. No one debates whether the victim deserves justice. There isn’t the question of if the parents of the deceased deserve our sympathy or our compassion. Their pain isn’t ridiculed along with their sons’ or daughters’ reputations being slandered by racially-coded slurs. Their lives mattered. We know. We concur. We get it.
Yet no matter how much brutality, excessive force, wrongful death, and unnecessary violence against people of color is shown by the media, the #AllLivesMatter faction remains unconvinced that a dehumanizing double-standard exists. When a fourteen-year old girl at a pool party, clad only in a bikini, is manhandled by an officer three times her size, she’s somehow seen as a criminal, a threat. The #AllLivesMatter coalition was silent on the matter. If that young lady was anything other than black there would have been no end to the outrage. The problem is internal. The truth is that many people use the #AllLives hashtag to mask their belief that when blacks are killed or abused, they simply got what they deserved. If they’re being honest with themselves, they consider our lives disposable. Black lives can’t matter because those lives matter less than everyone else’s. Just say it. Don’t disguise the truth with pro #AllLives propaganda. For those still firmly embedded in the clueless club let me reiterate: believing black lives matter DOES NOT mean anyone else’s life matters less. The world should value all lives. As a reminder of this, black people rally, black people fight, and black people proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter! If we don’t put that record on repeat who will?
The human race is in jeopardy when bigotry fueled brutality doesn’t make us angry and sad. I urge everyone to concentrate more on ending racism and hatred and worry less about the hashtag.