ViewPoints by Dr. T
When people say, link “I don’t see color, click ” the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. It’s clear that they are speaking metaphorically because unless they are visually impaired or blind, cure it is obvious that they can see what color the flowers are on the table, or the strawberries in the bowl or the little Black girl in the magazine advertisement. The extent to which recent political discourse has devolved into a binary debate with so much misinformation and misinterpretation that is firmly rooted in the echo chamber of false equivalencies is outrageous. The most recent police slayings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile caught on tape and disseminated widely via social media, and the subsequent targeted killing of 5 Dallas police officers, apparently in response, has ignited a new debate and resurgence of the call for #BlueLivesMatter as a retort to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Again, it is understandable as a symbolic gesture or metaphoric comparison but the contrast on its face is the definition of a false equivalency. People are not blue or green or purple with pink polka dots. Race and racial identity is real and it is unchangeable. There is immutability to blackness that there is not when compared to the occupation of being a police officer. A police officer wears a uniform. A police officer chooses to become a police officer. When a police officer takes off their uniform, who they are and what they do is no longer immediately visible to the general population. In fact, without their uniform, their weapon and their badge, they are just regular people like anyone else.
Blackness is not something that we can change into and out of like a uniform. Blackness is not a profession that we have chosen or a skill set that we learn and are paid to perform. Blackness is our heritage and our birthright. It is passed from generation to generation from the parent to the child. It is not a choice; it is the reality of our lives. There can be no comparison to being a Black person and being a police officer. They are two distinctly different things with two distinctly different realities and, therefore, to attempt to compare the two is completely inaccurate and false, to say nothing of the intersectionality of being BOTH Black and a police officer. To co-opt the meaning and message of Black Lives Matter is to create a false narrative of misunderstanding and misinterpretation that only causes confusion and ignites passions that increase the social and political disenfranchisement between law enforcement and the communities of color they serve, and widens the chasm between the two.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an activist movement, originating in the African American community, that campaigns against the historic and continuing violence toward black people. It is a movement that recognizes that we have a crime problem within the USA, but that the Black community is not inherently more prone to this phenomenon than other communities. The continued focus on black-on-black crime is a diversionary tactic, whose goal is to suggest that black people don’t have the right to be outraged about police violence in vulnerable communities, merely because those communities have a crime problem. The Black Lives Matter movement acknowledges crime is a problem, but rejects that it is a problem of black pathology. Black people are not inherently more violent or more prone to crime than other groups of people. Additionally, BLM challenges the belief in “respectability politics.” This is a significant point of tension within the Black community at-large. Some hold on to the idea that a good job, being “well-behaved,” and having “proper” dress and demeanor will protect you from the evils of racism. They cling to the hope that there’s something you can do to protect yourself against being a target of racism. The BLM movement rejects these contentions in the face of the massive evidence of police mistreatment of black people of all classes and backgrounds and the overwhelming data supporting both institutional and systemic bias within the criminal justice system.
When all is said and done #BlueLivesMatter is just as offensive and diminutive of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement as the reflexive response of #AllLivesMatter. Being Black is an immutable reality, being a police officer is not.