This furor over Black Lives Matter has become terribly complicated. It has been wildly misrepresented, and there is much societal and cultural confusion around what seems to me to be a pretty straight-forward issue. Perhaps I can simplify.
First of all, it is not about you. No one is saying BLACK LIVES MATTER and YOURS DOESN’T. So don’t get your little undies in a bunch.
And no one has ever said All Lives DON’T Matter. Or matter LESS somehow. This is not a competitive event. Or if it is, it is an attempt to get EVERYONE on the winners’ podium. At the same time. No one is asking you or telling you to pick sides, to choose teams. This is not an either/or proposition. It is merely a statement of fact. Admittedly a strong statement, intended to get everyone’s attention. Which it has. BLACK LIVES MATTER. Because truthfully, they haven’t in the past.
If it makes you feel better, you can start your own movement. You can call it GARDENERS’ LIVES MATTER. Or ELECTRICIANS’ LIVES MATTER. Or LEFT-HANDERS’ LIVES MATTER. I could actually do that one. It was horrible growing up left-handed. All the taunts and the bullying. It was hard to find a good baseball glove. Not so much in the way of discrimination though. I never had to go to Left-Handers-Only Schools or live in the Left-Handers-Only Neighborhood. And targeting by the police was not an issue. I don’t remember ever being profiled for being left-handed. I kept my hands in my pockets a lot. But still, I could get behind LEFT-HANDERS’ LIVES MATTER. I would need some technical support if I tried to start a for-real movement though. I’ve never fully understood that # thing.
Or how about BLONDE LIVES MATTER. You couldn’t use #BLM of course. That one is already taken. Probably trademarked too. But you could start it up, and I would support your Blondes’ Lives thing. Certainly I would. Because I truly believe that Blondes lives matter. I wouldn’t go to meetings or contribute or pay dues are anything. I wouldn’t go to any prolonged marches or decorate my jeep for your parade, but I guess I would put a sign in my front yard. And maybe a placard in my window. If it was important to you. I would do that for you.
But the thing is of course that Blondes’ lives have always mattered. If Blondes are murdered, it’s a big deal. The headlines are big, people pay attention and most of the time the system finds, arrests and prosecutes the killer. There is a general assumption that they are innocent victims, or at least that they didn’t deserve to die that way. It has always been so. Blondes are one of us, you see. And we move pretty quickly when one of our own is attacked.
If Blondes by the hundreds started dying violently every year in St. Louis, there would no doubt be a public outcry. It would be an emergency of epic proportions. If 20-30 Blondes a week were being shot with handguns, commissions would be formed, laws would be passed, more police would be hired. Outstate legislators might even consider reasonable gun control measures if their constituents began to notice that so many of their own kind were dying.
Even if it was just Blondes killing other Blondes, the lid would come off of St. Louis. Counselors would be hired, judges would be added. Taxes would be levied to finance studies of the causes of violent deaths by Blondes. Proposals and solutions for its cessation would be generated. Police Chiefs from Ferguson to St. Peters to Affton would be in front of microphones defending themselves and explaining what they were doing to prevent further Blonde deaths. Priests and ministers of every stripe and denomination would expound from their pulpits about the value of Blondes lives, about how God loves and treasures each and every one of them and how He will dash and destroy whoever might try to harm them and how it is our duty as Christians to protect and defend Blonde people. There would be radio and TV public service announcements telling us that Blonde people are suffering right now and to stand up to people who spoke disrespectfully about Blonde people and to make sure that we befriend and shelter each and every Blonde person we knew, and even those we didn’t know. The internet would be thick with Go Fund Me sites and politicians across the spectrum would not only be sending “Thoughts and Prayers” but also then following it up with meaningful legislation. Imagine that.
The very foundation of St. Louis would shift to do whatever it took to stop this indiscriminate and relentless slaying of Blondes among us. All sorts of political will would be summoned, and immeasurable resources would be brought to bear on bringing this scourge to an end. All other political discussion would STOP. No expense would be spared, and it is likely that the effort would succeed. Probably pretty quickly too, I would imagine. Such would be our determination.
And imagine if this were happening Nationally. America would mobilize. The Justice Department, the Supreme Court, the NRA, the FBI, the ACLU, both branches of Congress, Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians would all hold hands and do what needed to be done to stop this senseless killing of Blondes. We would stand together and not allow it to continue.
We would say, because we are good and empathetic people: “At this moment, we identify with Blonde people everywhere.” We would say, the way families do: “They are in pain and we lend out support.” It is the way truly Human people speak to each other.
That does not seem, however, to be the case with the current epidemic of killings, the murders happening primarily in our cities. The demographics are different. Specifically, almost all of the victims are Black.
It has been going on for years now across the country, and if anything, it is getting worse. It does not appear that there is any great urgency to study causes or to find solutions to end this ongoing public health crisis. “Life in the Big City,” we shrug. “How many got killed this weekend anyway? What a shame. Somebody ought to do something.” Our government has in fact blocked research on gun violence for over 20 years. The. Powers That Be, payed off handsomely by Lobbyists, are afraid that the research might uncover that the gun violence is, God forbid, related to the guns. Then what would we do???
Suffice it to say that ending the killing, stopping the violence, in Black communities is not the dominant discussion of our Age. It is not a pressing issue requiring cooperation or any kind of urgency. There are no public service announcements. There is certainly no political will. No bipartisan, Urban-Rural agreements in the works to decrease the availability of the lethal weapons that cause most of these deaths.
And we know the reason of course. Not enough people care. Not enough people give a rat’s ass really. “It is what it is,” America has said in unison from coast to coast. “It’s only Black folks killing other Black folks after all. It’s their problem. They probably had it coming. And it’s not as if it’s Our People.”
And those of us who hear the news, who read it. Do we not breathe a sigh of relief when the victim is not one of our kind? Do we not ourselves dismiss it and move on? Do we not feel a sense of relief that there is distance between us, our kind, and those being killed? They are still only killing each other. Do we not affirm, in a passive way, that BLACK LIVES DO NOT MATTER?
So we may want to say that ALL LIVES MATTER. And of course, we are right. It’s just that in this particular discussion, what is meant is that BLACK LIVES MATTER TOO. It is necessary to recognize that. Because, truthfully, they haven’t in the past. And they don’t much now either.