“Black Lives Matter is an activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence toward black people. BLM regularly organizes protests around the deaths of black people in killings by law enforcement officers, and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.” Wikipedia
Like Wikipedia’s definition, most media coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement focuses on the issue of cops killing black men and vice versa, which could mislead foreign observers to conclude police brutality is the crux of the issue. More accurately, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. Black Lives Matter is a new banner for an old movement, and if you want to understand the movement today, you have to know its historical roots.
The African American community has been justifiably simmering with resentment and anger since the 1600s. Being a second class citizen will do that to you. Even after the emancipation of slavery in 1863, Jim Crow laws continued justifying blacks’ antipathy towards the American government (and the white people who ran/supported it) until those laws were abolished in the 1950s. Then it still took until the 1990s for discrimination to be completely criminalized.
This puts American race relations in an awkward position today. There are white Millennials who never lived during a time when discrimination was legal. Simultaneously, there are elderly blacks who still remember being forced to drink from segregated water fountains.
So to white children, the struggle for equality can look like ancient history, but in the black community, the wounds of the past are still fresh, and new ones are being created every day. Even though we now live in a time when African Americans can become celebrities, billionaires or even the president of the United States (twice), at least 27% of African Americans still live in poverty, more than any other race in America. Blacks are also at least 3 times more likely to go be shot by police and at least 5 times more likely to go to prison than any other race. Obviously, something is still wrong.
The murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin, which inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, blew the problem to the forefront of the national dialogue by dumping fuel onto a 400 year old tire fire of resentment and anger that has been a part of African American culture so long, it has become a cornerstone of their cultural identity, which you can see erupting throughout black culture.
Black comedians habitually fill standup routines and movies with derogatory jokes about white people. Black people call each other “nigger” to spite white people by taking ownership of the term, and despite their intolerance of racial slurs, they’ve invented a whole slew of Caucasian ones they use openly. Black Christian preachers still lecture congregations about how evil the white man is. There are black-only magazines, holidays, music labels, television stations, clubs and clothing lines that blacks use to distance themselves from whites. White racism is such a strong force in the African American community, members are often punished for acting too white. To the extent a black man is likely to be hassled by the cops if caught in all-white neighborhood after dark, a white man caught in an all-black neighborhood after dark is likely to be killed.
With so much bad blood bottled up, anyone paying attention to the history and institutionalization of black backlash wouldn’t have been surprised when, on July 8th 2016, a Black Lives Matter protester shot 14 police officers, killing 5, and admitted he was “targeting white people, specifically white officers.” The shooting didn’t come out of nowhere, and realistically, we can expect more of the same until black America’s grievances are settled.
Many white American Millennials are surprised black people have so much animosity towards them, because they’ve spent their entire lives apologizing to them, treating them with respect, giving them special privileges and walking on egg shells around all minorities. They’ve grown up celebrating black celebrities, making black friends, living with black roommates, obeying black bosses and voting for black politicians. Yet, for all their efforts, they’ve been told that no matter what they do or think, it’s impossible for white people to not be racist. So they’ll always be presumed guilty of subconscious racist microaggressions. Furthermore, white guilt is a form of racism, and it’s impossible for black people to be racist.
If the white population is sitting around subconsciously conspiring to oppress black people, then why do least 26.6% of Mexican Americans live in poverty, which is within 1% of African Americans? Other estimates put the percentages of African Americans and Mexican Americans living in poverty at 38% and 35% respectively, but that still means there are more Mexican Americans living in poverty than African Americans.
If nothing else, this indicates blacks aren’t exactly being singled out. It also raises the question, if anyone should care about blacks lives, then isn’t it equally important for blacks to care about Hispanic lives? Even if blacks are slightly more oppressed, ignoring the plight of Hispanics, and calling dibs on the first place in line to get saved, is just as callous as ignoring the suffering of poor Asian Americans, and putting them third in line just because a higher percentage of Mexican Americans live in poverty.
Poverty isn’t just for minorities either. While at least 3.6 million black children live in poverty, so do at least 4.2 million white children, and their pain is as real and important as anyone else’s. The fact that a bunch of other random people just happened to be born with the same skin color as them doesn’t negate their plight.
Most impoverished white children will never recover physically or emotionally enough from the trauma of growing up poor to escape poverty. Like their black counterparts, they’re only theoretically eligible to become president someday, but for all practical purposes, they’re doomed at birth to work like slaves their entire lives for barely enough to survive, living perpetually paycheck to paycheck, in constant fear of their car breaking down and wiping out their entire life savings. Their employers, and the customers they serve, treat them like second class citizens, and all the hard living they endure, inevitably takes its toll on their bodies, killing them prematurely.
If black people feel like nobody is listening to their cries, imagine how ignored poor white people feel. Not only does nobody care, but the whole world is explosively passionate about their indifference, especially blacks, who should care, because it raises the question, how can white people be the source of oppression when whites are being oppressed by the millions?
Black people should be equally concerned with the fact that police kill twice as many whites as blacks. If there’s a conspiracy to shoot black people, what purpose does the enormous pile of white bodies serve? Police killings shouldn’t be a divisive issue, because black and white victims are two sides of the same coin. Black and white Americans should be complaining about their piles together.
As important as it is for Black Lives Matter to raise awareness of how far blacks are from achieving the American Dream, the movement also needs to raise awareness in the black community of the long-ignored truth that white people don’t live in Whitopia. Rich people do. Everyone else, regardless of color, are varying degrees of wage slaves living in varying degrees of ghettos.
Take a long moment and think about this: Almost half the children in America live near the poverty line, and the percentage is always growing, which proves America has a systemic problem, but it’s not race-related. Every poor person in America is under the same boot. Only acknowledging one race’s plight is myopic and can only make solving the systemic problem less likely.
This is almost beating a dead horse, because Black Lives Matters organizers have already acknowledged all lives matter and clarified it’s nevertheless time for America to get off the pot and do something about their complaints.
A Redditor summarized the concept eloquently, “Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!”
The analogy would be more accurate if it read, “Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family. Your uncle gives half the people at the table less than half a portion, but he gives you the least. Then, he keeps most of the food for himself. So you say, “I should get my fair share.” When everybody else says, “What about our empty plates?” You say, “Your plates aren’t the issue. Mine is.” Your comment dismissed everyone and didn’t solve the problem that half the people at the table are starving.
If everyone in America owes it to African Americans to acknowledge their suffering, then African Americans owe it to all of America’s races to acknowledge theirs. As it stands, blacks are demanding everyone reach out to them with an open hand while they hold a closed fist and belligerently refuse to reciprocate what they’re asking for.
Ultimately, every race in America has the same problem. The best way to solve it might not be for everyone to get behind one race, but for every race to get behind each other. Instead of singling one race out for rescue, everyone works in tandem as a unified front.
But before the black community can accept that, someone needs to answer the million dollar question you’ve probably been screaming the whole time you’ve been reading this:
Why are African Americans disproportionately screwed by the system, and is it racially motivated?
Obviously, before the Emancipation Proclamation, the American government, in tandem with the white population, intentionally conspired against, and oppressed, blacks. White Americans born between 1863 and the 1960s were guilty of gradually lesser degrees of conspired oppression. Baby Boomers were the last generation to live in a time with discriminatory laws, and a significantly low number of white Boomers’ decedents still believe in racist creeds. Any conspiracy to oppress blacks ended with the Millennial generation.
Part of the reason it looks like blacks are still being singled out is because the target was taken off their backs about 20 years ago. The white archer is gone, but the arrow is still freshly lodged in the victim’s body.
The arrow is a metaphor for the ghetto. That’s what’s responsible for African Americans’ disproportionately high rates of poverty, violent crime, incarceration and police altercations. The simplest way to explain why/how is by looking at how the same thing happened in other racial ghettos.
The Native Americans, the native Hawaiians of Oahu, and the Maori people of New Zealand were all forcibly relocated off their tribal lands to isolated geographical locations. Since they’d naturally settled in the most fertile, convenient places before white men came along, they were sent to more inconvenient, inhospitable areas. They still could have lived off the land as they always had. It would have been tougher, but they could have made a go of it, but they didn’t have a chance, because capitalists (who just happened to be white) came and introduced the concepts of money and ownership.
Suddenly, everything cost as much money as possible, and the only way to make money was to own a business or work for a business. But employers paid as low of wages as they could get away with, and it costs money to start a business. Even if a Native American, Hawaiian or Maori could start their own business, it would be in an isolated economic wasteland where none of their customers had any money because there weren’t enough jobs to go around. Relocating was easier said than done, because that required money they didn’t have, and more importantly, abandoning their family, culture and heritage.
Once all the land around their homesteads were developed into suburbs with no jobs, options became even more scarce. The higher businesses raised prices, the more the ethnic poor became hopelessly chained in place with debt. The bleakness of their circumstance became a perfect recipe for stress, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, resentment, anger, desperation, violence and drug abuse, all of which became epidemic in their communities.
Since businesses didn’t want to move into areas where people were being driven to extremes by economic oppression, jobs never came to their ghettos, which meant they would always be opportunity-less economic wastelands full of drug addicts who gave up hope and desperate young men who figured out crime pays limitlessly more than minimum wage.
That’s the story of every ghetto in the world, and that’s what happened to African Americans the moment they were settled into theirs. Anyone of any color who lives in those geographical locations will experience the same thing, but not because any racist mastermind is actively tinkering with their lives. The concrete does all the work.
This is why attacking police officers and white people won’t change anything. It doesn’t create job opportunities or lower the cost of living. If the Black Lives Matter movement never amounts to anything more than a white witch hunt, its momentum will be wasted lynching scapegoats, and its only long-term impact will be to distract poor Americans from the real source of their problems: America’s predatory financial system and its control of the government. Until that’s addressed, most Americans, particularly anyone living in a ghetto, can expect to live in poverty and suffer all the horrific consequences that come with it… together.
White people aren’t the enemy. CEOs are. They were the ones who owned the cotton plantations and had the capital to ship slaves across the Atlantic ocean. They were the archers who put the target on African Americans backs. Now America has billionaire CEOs of every color, even black ones, oppressing their wage slaves indiscriminately. To modern business owners, everyone is a disposable resource who is worth less than the products they make.
Since Caucasians are the largest group of poor people in America, they’re actually the most logical ally (and most illogical enemy) for the Black Lives Matter movement in its struggle against the financial system.
However, joining forces with white people to organize bigger protests will only result in the corporate-controlled government deploying bigger columns of riot police to brutally shut down the assemblies the same way they did the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was mostly white. If protesters respond to violence with violence, the only result will be the government justifying further militarization of the police force and erosion of everyone’s civil rights.
The American government doesn’t care about protests. All it cares about is money, because money is power, debt is slavery, and debt-slavery yields the highest, most long term profit (ergo power) margins.
If the poor can pool their resources and build self-sufficient communities that provide free food, water and shelter to its members, then the rich will lose their leverage over the poor and thus their control.
If Americans can coerce their government into prioritizing spending taxes on the necessities of life for all citizens instead of a more high tech police state, then everyone will be free from the desperation and indignity of poverty.
There are multiple approaches that could work, but the goal of the Black Lives Matter movement must be systemic financial reform or it’s just hacking at the branches of income inequality.
If you want to hear an articulate and useful explanation of the Black Lives Matter from a black person, listen to this man:
If you liked this post, you may like these:
Issues in the Workplace