Send this article to that person in the Facebook debate who just doesn’t get it! Protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have gone global. Demonstrators are demanding police reform, bringing attention to the fact that black people in particular have been a constant target of fatally excessive police force. Naturally, this triggers a greater conversation about systemic racism, a topic that the public has previously been (conveniently) silent about.
Suddenly it seems everyone is taking to Facebook to either discuss their opinion or try to correct subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) racist commentary. But there are some very basic concepts to understand about the BLM movement that many people are missing. Hiding behind putting a different spin on things is just not an option anymore.
So if you find yourself in a mind-numbing debate on these issues, and are trying to educate someone on anti-racism for what feels like the millionth time, fret no more! You don’t have to do all the emotional labor of correcting people– just send them this list of four simple, to-the-point facts about the basics of not sounding like racist trash. Please note this list is by no means exhaustive.
1. Black lives matter is not an opinion, it’s a factual statement.
Notice these words aren’t capitalized, as “black lives matter” is a stand-alone sentence. Saying black lives matter is not political, and no one chooses to agree nor disagree because it is a fact. It’s saying something like, “my friend Devon is black, and his life matters,” which is true. To counter with saying “all lives matter” is a logical fallacy: we are not saying ONLY black lives matter, we are simply bringing attention to the fact that black lives have not been treated with dignity so we must rectify that. That’s why saying “no, Michelle, ALL lives matter” is missing the point altogether. It’s like commenting on a post about breast cancer awareness, offended, and saying “well what about LUNG cancer?” We cannot say all lives matter until black lives matter too.
2. Protesting, rioting and looting are three different things and should not be lumped together.
NYPD chief of intelligence, John Miller, has publicly said the looting is not a feature associated with this movement, according to CNN. “We believe it was an opportunist action by regular criminal groups who decided to exploit this,” said Miller, “And we hear that increasingly from the groups that are marching that they have nothing to do with that and are trying to disassociate themselves.”
pro·test | definition: the act of objecting or a gesture of disapproval
especially : a usually organized public demonstration of disapproval
ri·ot | definition: a violent public disorder
specifically : a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent
ˈlüt | definition: to engage in robbing or plundering especially in war
3. Any violence that has erupted does NOT invalidate the movement to end state-sanctioned violence and white supremacy.
Stop trying to use that as an excuse to not be on the anti-racist side.
People have a right to be outraged by the very obvious trend of sanctioned black murders; because they are just that: murders. Way too many have happened – and have been forgiven by the legal system – to be able to continue sitting still. However, this still doesn’t mean the Black Lives Matter movement condones violence. It does mean peaceful protesting is a sign of grace and composure.
4. The protests have actually sparked change in the right direction. This proves protesting is a legitimate agent of change.
Here are some ways we are starting to see a shift in public life and in police departments:
- Following protests, Derek Chauvin and the three other officers involved in killing George Floyd have been charged. The charges were even expanded to include second-degree murder, (as opposed to simply manslaughter, for example.) To be clear, this is an improvement on previous cases of death by police force, and even civilian black murder cases.
- The FBI launched an investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor after public pressure. Taylor was shot and killed in her home during a police search.
- Minneapolis has banned the use of choke holds, as have Washington, DC, Chicago, New York and Denver amongst others, according to CNN.
- Accountability for the use of police force has improved. Officers who were filmed reacting violently to protestors have been released from duty and investigated.
I really hope this read has been an enlightening experience for some. Truly, these are basic concepts we can all get behind in the name of human rights. Again, this article is not a comprehensive list of all the topics at hand, just a very useful one.
Cover photo courtesy of ET Online
Both black and white photos: Image courtesy of E News