Opinion: Black Lives Matter

You, fellow human of fine emotions and sensibilities, your life matters.  You deserve to walk down the street worrying about things like how many likes your selfies will attract on Instagram, or what you are going to have for lunch. Otim kɛ Kenam. When you see a police officer, you are supposed to not really notice them. Unless you are an admirer of uniformed people, and even then, it should register in your very occupied mind something like, police, and perhaps some unnecessary sense of security. But you ought not feel fear for your life. Even if you are an awful person. Did you see that episode of Californication when Hank got beaten by the bald overweight police man? Right when they left the crazy party where for a minute he thought he had been touching a naked Karen? It was the first time it registered with me that the police is sometimes the criminal.

The thing is power is corrupting. Think about it. When was the last time you felt really powerful? How did you feel? What did you do? Was it nice, feeling that you had something that sort of placed you above someone? Did you not just walk down the street, but strut down the freaking street? You probably found yourself wanting to say to people who did not realize that they were in the presence of power, "Do you know who I am?" So there are the police people with all their breathtaking toys and all that power to help make our world a little safer, even if they have to break a few backs to do so. But the thing is, not everyone can handle power. Just like fame destroys certain people, power is not for everyone. Even people with super high morals are known to fail every now and then. Like those priests and those poor little choirboys.

Our actions are usually motivated by our beliefs and we often feel we are doing the right thing, the best we can do, even when at times we are wrong. You will not eat rice if you hate it. You will not protect someone if you do not feel their life is worth much. If you keep lying and people always believe you, you may keep lying. You will harass someone, if you are a bully and you know they cannot really fight back. This is why some people feel the need to say Black Lives Matter. Why aren't they saying all lives matter? Shouldn't we stick together to fight for equal rights? Why do these people feel a need to separate black lives from the rest? Is it not "united we stand and separated or divided we fall?" Should we not advocate for color-blindness rather than all these confusion of race, ethnicity, and what have you?

When I first heard the slogan Black Lives Matter, I thought, yes, of course, but so do all lives. I believe in humanity as one big family of diversity. There is no need for segregation. In the long run, we are better off fighting for all lives and the sooner we start the better. I did not care for the slogan...in the beginning. Then I started reading about it to understand the point of it. I soon learned that the slogan was coined after the Zimmerman case, to help bring awareness to the state of black lives in America. Then I learned that black people do not feel safe around cops. Prior to my little research, I was one of those people who never really noticed the police. I think, oh there is a police person, then back to day dreaming. But apparently, black men are often targeted by police people. It is like the police is obsessed with black people, the men especially. It is probably why people overreacted a tiny bit in that protest after Freddie Gray's funeral. All that looting and black on black on black on black on black crime. I saw a really interesting video of the Time Square protest this April via Gothamist. But they have taken down the post. We all know that the protest  sort of did not really happen because the police shut it down really quickly.  Thank you, de Blasio. But in one of the little brief videos from Gothamist, a simple chant, directed at the police, was captured, "Who do you serve? Who do you protect?" It got me thinking, in America, are the police for the state or for the people? Which people?
Illustration by Lisa Hsia

The trend is, of course, that the targeted victims of police brutality are usually people of my skin color. Some call it black, some call it brown, and some just say melanin. From a little of what I have read, this is because people like me have never really mattered in the Unites States of America. This freaked me out. A LOT!  Excuse me for being in love with myself but it is not at all flattering that people are using people like me as game for hunting. Let's call it shoot down a negro; and they are getting away with it, too! That is horrific. A nightmare daymare! Trust me, I am tired of racism, too...and I have only been aware of it for about a year or so. But when it is happening to you, you don't really have a choice but to want better treatment. So you stop posting selfies and start posting anti-racism videos on your Facebook page, and blogging about it. Hoping that you can make a tiny difference in maybe one person's thinking. It is human nature...or so they say.

A few years ago if you mentioned racism to me, I would roll my eyes and tune you out. It is the 21st century for cow's sake! So post-racial. Now I worry about my poor brother going out to get some fruits, which I will end up eating the majority of, and never making it home. (Goodbye free fruits!) The poor boy. Whom will I quarrel with then? Bitterly and without fear? Who will tell me to my face that I am getting fat or that I am super boring and ought to get a real life? I love my brother. Do not tell him I wrote this. As a matter of fact, I love me, too. So I must agree that black lives matter. Simply because people who look like me are no less important than those who do not look like us. Kids who look like me deserve to play with toy guns and not get shot down for being children. And when we are shot down like animals, those who do us wrong deserve to face the law, and justice (whatever that is) be served.

Black Lives Matter is a movement that aims to speak to people who do not understand that all lives matter or who like me, live in a bubble of their own and do not realize that our society practices systematic racism. What? Black people are not treated the same way as white people? But we all have access to the same things! All you have to do is work hard. Right. So why cannot you say all lives matter? Well because that dilutes the campaign. The point, you see, is not that all lives do not matter. And perhaps the fact that you feel the protest takes positive attention away from you say something about your awareness of racism in America. In this scenario, there is nothing wrong with being uncomfortable, but maybe one ought to ask oneself, why? Why do I hear Black Lives Matter and feel threatened? Or feel as though someone is suggesting my life is of no value? Why cannot I stand hearing this phrase? See, all lives matter is a big cake but some people have forgotten that the lives of black people is part of that cake. The purpose of Black Lives Matter, from what I have read, is to remind those who have forgotten or who do not know,  or are delusional or intentional in thinking, for one reason or the other, that black people are inferior to the rest, that it is not so. The purpose of Black Lives Matter is to say that the life of a black person is equal to say that of a white person. Not three-fifths. Equal. Nothing less, nothing more.

When you ask that the movement change from Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter, it is like you are disregarding and disrespecting the goal of the campaign. Indirectly, it suggests that you are either unaware or in denial of the state of black lives in America. But no, not you. You are not racist. No one is accusing you of that. No, you do not have to join the protest. Between us, I personally avoid protests like the plague. But it seems to me that if you indeed believe all lives matter you will have some desire to help bring unjust treatment of a people, in this instance, police brutality on black people, to an end. Because all lives matter, don't they? No matter what color your skin is, no matter who you are, your life matters. Whether you are a thief, a police person, a drug dealer, an immigrant, a refugee, a starving artist, a sell-out artist, a big artist, a  tag thug, a tHug, a ThUG, an it's-Show-Time! performer on the poles of NYC trains, you are important. So all lives matter. Yes the cat's, too, as is the vulture's. You should be treated fairly. Besides, it benefits us all if everyone is treated right. It reduces, if not removes, animosity between people  and helps establish that human family that we all want. Peace, sunshine, and rainbows.

You do not believe that the police are guilty of what these so called tHuGs are saying and showing in videos? You are probably right that it is only a few bad police people doing all these nasty things. The majority are angels. Ah perhaps the tHugs actually did something wrong. If they were home, clutching their blankets under their beds, and being good frightened people no one would be forced into shooting them down. But here is the thing, every so often someone knocks on your door and tells you they have been bitten by Billy, your adorable dog. Yes, Billy is a sweetheart and you cannot imagine him doing something like that. And yet here are all these people pointing their fingers at Billy and bringing his bite marks to show you. They do not even know that lovely dog like you do. You are right! But maybe they are right, too. What if the way Billy interacts with you is different from the way he engages with others? Maybe he loves you but cannot stand others. You ought to at least listen to these people with their bites, do some real investigation, and see if perhaps sweet Billy gets naughty when your back is turned. Then find a way to teach Billy to be nice to everyone so we can all get excited when we see Billy. Who's a good dog?! Who's a good dog? Billy! 

Happy Mother's Day.


Anonymous said…
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!
Jane Odartey said…
Jhaneel, I am so glad you see my point. Thank you. :)

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