With Ben Carson addressing #BlackLivesMatter (and being dead-on with his assessment), I thought it was time to present a refresher on what "Black Lives Matter" was initially about. First off, it is NOT about valuing the lives of blacks above all others. The hashtag is "BlackLivesMatter", not "#ONLYBlackLives..." Next, it IS about reminding society in general (and the police forces, DA's, courts who are supposed to protect ALL) that we ARE human beings and as human beings OUR LIVES DO MATTER.
About 50 years ago, black protesters marched with signs that read, "I AM A MAN". The signs did not state that blacks were the best of men or otherwise possessed of greater "stuff" than all others. No, they simply stated that we blacks were (and are) human beings, that the Jim Crow laws, segregation by force, intimidation and outright murder of blacks by those in power and those who feared the emergence of "Negroes" from subservience were acts that were unjust, intolerable, and against the Democratic concepts underpinning our American society. Unfortunately, in today's age where the murders of blacks is again epidemic in number, those signs are, sadly, just as relevant as ever.
Fifty years later and the basic concept that we are human and our lives matter is unfathomable to some. Strange, considering it is such a simple concept, yet it appears to be lost on some, especially those who fixate on the hashtag and who perceive both it and the movement as something to be reviled. I argue that we need #BlackLivesMatter to be understood and respected both as a cause and as a fact of human existence. They are not attempts at social division, but as rallying cries for understanding and acceptance.
The negative feedback against "#BlackLivesMatter" is, to me, only matched by the negative feedback against the phrase "Black Power" and the "Black Power" salute. In truth, they were meant to signify the need of the black community to raise itself out of poverty and despair, to seek education and enlightenment, to gain a sense of pride in being of African descent NOT as a way of elevating ourselves above all others, but as a call to elevate ourselves as much as we could, however we could. And yes, it served notice to those who would harm us that we would NOT be stepped on, that we could unite, that we would unite, that we would resist with every means afforded to us by the American Constitution. And we are.
The "Black Lives Matter" hashtag and movement, and the "Black Power" slogan are from different eras, yet the problems they address largely remain the same. To call that "a shame" would be an understatement. To call it a blatant indicator of this nation's progress (or lack thereof) in dealing with race (despite having a half-white President) would be astute.
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