Today, American society at large seems to be going through an identity crisis of sorts.
We are now living at the cusp of the #metoo era and with the advent of social media, being canceled by society at large (cancel culture) is a real consequence for discrimination. It almost seems as if there are movements within movements—causes and actions to be taken for justice (or some semblance of justice) at every turn.
It has never been more in style to say Black Lives Matter as it is to say it now. The proverbial line has been drawn in the sand between social and political groups, races, genders, economic classes—everyone feels unheard. Or at least, it seems that way.
To paraphrase Audre Lourde, there is no such thing as a singular struggle because none of us lives a single-issue life. And while we mourn continuously for those too numerous to name who have died needlessly at the hands of the police, while we continue to fight for their stolen lives and to fight systemic American racism in all its forms, we must consider our silence and moral culpability when a young black man or woman dies at the hands of another POC.
The question often asked on social media by supporters and detractors of the BLM movement alike is, why don’t we march or protest these killings?
The answer is not simple, because the situation that brought about this way of life as it is in most inner cities is not that simple and it is a vital necessity that BLM not get hijacked, shamed or swept under the rug by its detractors.
In the beginning, Black Lives Matter was about social, political, and economic empowerment for people of color in America. After the death of Trayvon Martin, and the acquittal of his murderer George Zimmerman, BLM was started in 2013 as an answer to all the senseless killings of men, women and children of color at the hands of police. Actors, entertainers, some politicians and other public figures, were immensely for this cause.
There was a need for affirmation of life—of all the lives of POC. We are more than the sum of our parts, more than other’s perceptions or opinions about our skin color. We needed that affirmation, we needed to believe it. We still need to believe it. More than that, we needed a resolution before the revolution. If only for ourselves, we need to say, “My Brother, you matter to me.” Or “My Sister, I you are beautiful, and you matter to me.” We need to matter to us.
Now, we have people hijacking the movement by calling looting reparations in Chicago. Far leftist organizations like Antifa are causing wanton destruction in the name of self-righteousness, anti-fascism and anarchy. Is it to say that they are on our side? Is it just to be on the right side of history?
As a nation, America has been treading through bloody waters, trying to build on a promise that was initially denied by law to a great number of people. That promise was and is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness based on the premise that all men are created equal.
There should be no sides in this endeavor.
If we men and women of color are truly going to live out our collective and individual purposes in this nation, then we must act not impulsively, or even at first belligerently. We must act with intelligence.
We also need to face facts.
When a POC (adult or child) dies in the inner city loses their life to needless violence, we not only need to speak up, we should speak up. Why? Their lives mattered just as much as the names of the POC the media allows us to remember. There have been many boys like Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, and many men like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and many women like Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. We shout, we scream and marched for them. We saw value in their story, their memory and did not cast them aside as just a another one gone. Why should that not be the case when a Black life is lost at the hands of another Black life?
Black lives are powerful when they are in one accord; our separation is a distraction and a powerful tool for those who work against us.
Along with BLM, this younger generation along with all of us in the struggle is split in several directions with no unifying focus.
Our Blackness, our Afrocentricity, our very humanity is on trial in the media, sold to us in stores and markets that we don’t own, and at any given time a situation can arise where it is us versus them, or us versus us. That does not mean we should stop or that Black Lives Matter should stop.
BLM did not just happen in a vacuum. It happened because Black Americans are still fighting a constant battle with ourselves and the nation we call home.
We must acknowledge the factors in our faults and see the hope in our purpose. The system is set up for us to fail, but we are no longer chattel slaves to it anymore. The odds are stacked ever so much against us, but our very existence defies those odds. We must unlearn what we think we know about life, see the value in ourselves and each other.
Therefore, Black lives must matter, for all Black lives to continue.