Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Black-on-black violence is even more reason to say #BlackLivesMatter

I've been following the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on Twitter, and any time I've entered the fray I've taken my share of licks from those who mistakenly see that movement as anti-white and anti-police. As I've said many times (on Twitter as well as the Craigslist forums), when black lives matter, so do the rest.

While the civil rights movement of the 1960's was in response to the institutional oppression of blacks, any good that resulted from those struggles applied to all races. The upshot of the movement was that you, whoever you happen to be, are a human being, not a skin color. The civil rights movement was only ostensibly about blacks because they happened to  be bearing the brunt of establishment intolerance to racial minorities - I don't believe any black at the time would have wanted resulting civil rights laws to exclude anybody. They, along with the whites and other non-blacks who locked arms with them, were paving the way for all races.

This was a time of necessary political disruption, and it appears that time has come back around.

One of the common online responses to #BlackLivesMatter is for non-sympathizers to say "all lives matter, not just black ones". While such a sentiment is true in one sense, it is cited only in response to "black lives matter", as if the intent of the former is to neutralize the latter. And in trying to neutralize the latter, the #AllLivesMatter crowd is denying the pain and anger that comes with being from a demographic with a history of oppression on this continent, and who feel at least some of their racial brethren are being targeted for state violence here and now.

And so in trying to squelch black voices crying out for equality (not to mention equal protection under the law), the "all lives matter" crowd is practicing racism, albeit a racism cloaked in a pleasant- and uplifting-sounding meme.

Yes, *all* lives matter, but some lives are characterized by far greater inequality than others. To just chirp "all lives matter" as a way to ignore social injustice is to aid and abet that injustice in a very Orwellian way: saying one thing (black lives don't really matter) by couching it in contradicting terminology (all lives matter).

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On a smaller scale, there are those who will cherry-pick individual cases of black-on-black violence, and add a comment like "I guess black lives don't matter to them". They are implying that the existence of black-on-black violence should somehow invalidate (and therefore erase) the reality of white-on-black state violence.

Not only does black-on-black violence not invalidate the mission of the BlackLivesMatter movement, it merits even greater urgency for the cause. While conservatives bristle at such a concept, there is a direct relationship between violent crime and social and economic inequality. This has never been a secret, and yet our political establishment carries on as if this weren't the case.

By ignoring the effects of inequality on violent crime rates, and to compound centuries of black inequality by further reducing access to the quality education and healthcare that would reduce violent crime among blacks, is to say unequivocably: "Black lives don't matter."

While the BlackLivesMatter movement is officially in direct response to excessive police violence against black youth, it is simply disingenuous and absurd for whites to use incidents of black-on-black violence as an all-purpose 'Get Out of Jail Free' card, either in instances of inappropriate police violence or in political disregard for socioeconomic inequality.

Taking all of the above into consideration, let's call the reactionary #AllLivesMatter meme for what it is: class warfare from above.