Now that Black Lives Matter is a part of the country’s social infrastructure, I like so many other Blacks and whites – contemplated if this was a movement for the ages, or a knee jerk reaction to the killing of teen Trayvon Martin. Was it the battle cry that follows in the aftermath of a single tragic and unjust event, or would it take root and birth a movement?
On the eighth anniversary of the Black Lives Matter movement, I can say with complete confidence, that it is the latter.
At the dawn of BLM, when Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, wrote in a Facebook post, titled “Love letter to Black people,” she explained what is at the core of the matter and the movement.
“#Dear White People, please stop hiding your racial indifference behind a veil of anonymity,” Garza wrote. Once I read that, I knew innately that BLM was more than a catch phrase or passing call to action which would vanish once things calmed down.
Things never did calm down. The killing of Black people didn’t stop, and the rights of Black people continued to be distorted and ignored. BLM, continued to gain steam fueled by a judicial system which refused to acknowledge these atrocities and insisted on diminishing or even addressing the urgency of the racial issues which were coming to bear with a vengance.
And then it happened. We witnessed the murder of George Floyd, up-close and personal, and there was no longer any doubt about the direction BLM supporters would have to take. It would have to be an ongoing and sustainable action committed to not only raising the awareness of racial injustice but bringing about a reckoning for those injustices.
Ultimately, white people and other ethnic groups usurped the cry for justice as if it was a catchy slogan, in what must have seemed to them to be clever and noble retort that “all lives matter.”
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No doubt, all lives matter, but they were missing the point of BLM co-founder Alicia Garza’s letter which pointed out that apathy was at the heart of the matter, and “that [their] lack of understanding of our struggles as a race, warrants no authority to pass judgement about our reaction to adversity which [they] will never face.” The majority simply didn’t get that they trivialized tragedy with unnecessary declarations that “White lives matter,” or “Blue Lives matter” or all “All lives matter.” There was no action or event occurring in their lives or communities that provoked that proclamation of basic truth.
And then there was the flurry of empathetic whites rushing to learn through reading, research and conversations with Black people about how their dismissals of racial wrongs and ignorance of the Black experience had ignited a response that was culminating in national upheaval and global shame.
So, ultimately, some confederate monuments were removed, some anti-racism legislation was adopted, and a few cops were brought to justice for their heinous transgressions.
But that does little to mitigate the fact that Black people continue to be subjected daily to a condition worse than the hatred we have experienced since 1619 – it’s the willful indifference that adds salt to the wound.
BLM is more than a product of acrimony and hatred of one race against another, it’s a bonafide and legitimate movement to defend Black people against systemic racism and confront the indiscretions of a hostile government riddled with racial animus. It’s a next level self-defense model, which may or may not rise to the prominence of the civil rights movement, but will impact the lives of Americans, especially Black Americans, long past the foreseeable future. Every single Black life matters and that’s a splendidly simple fact.
Hiram Jackson is the CEO & Publisher of Real Times Media, which includes The Michigan Chronicle, a partner in the Word In Black collaborative.