The documented brutalities against innocent black people should be proof enough that the Black Lives Matter movement is justified. 2020 has forced us to pull the weeds rooted in America —lasering in on non-violent racism, because the protests over the year haven’t been enough, and because the silent forms of racism breed loud ones. And it’s brought us to today — coming to terms that perpetrators believe they can get away with treating black people like scum. To many, it’s a no-brainer. Society (we) treat black people worse than any other race. But to others, this reality is bullsh*t; baked in victim mentality.
With the latest killings of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, previous killings of Ahmed Arbaury, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah Mclain, you don’t have to look too far to find video evidence that innocent black people are murdered.
While more than half of America believes black lives have been cast aside while lighter skinned races sat on a forward-moving conveyor belt, millions of Americans, including ones that believe in the ideal that black lives matter, do not believe in the Black Lives Matter movement, or that black people suffer inconsistently to the rest of us, and that they deserve justice.
You don’t have to look far to find the evidence that people disagree. Take Daniel Maples, the now-famous Costco shopper, who went viral for feeling ‘threatened’ to wear a mask. Video footage was taken and he happened to be wearing a shirt that said “Running the World Since 1776.” (He’s just mad he didn’t think of Hamilton.) Take Sonya Holt, who was caught on video yelling, “White lives are better!” (What did your parents do to you?) And outside of the videos, there’s your generic tweets against BLM, there’s QUORA discussions, Facebook groups, more QUORA discussions, and ..white life advocates (??)..with websites promoting a White Lives Matter movement, because they believe they’re the victims of black oppression. I really wanted to learn about the other side. So I sought out right-wing twitter accounts, conservative Facebook friends, and I admit, I put some racist phrases into search bars to find out what comes up.*
Here’s a few reasons people don’t believe in the Movement (tell Sonya sorry her reason didn’t make it):
· Black people kill black people more than white cops kill black people
· The ones who have been killed are usually criminals
· The Movement is full of misaligned, hateful, emotional Marxists
· It supports looting, rioting, and destroying communities
· Why should I apologize for being white?**
Superficial reasons don’t answer the question.
People will find a reason to support their pre-existing opinions at any cost (conservatives OR liberals). It’s a psychology term called ‘motivated reasoning.’ Even I do it.** With motivated reasoning, every killing will have an asterisk next to it for BLM resistors, even if those killed had zero criminal background like Tamir Rice and Atatiana Jefferson. And on top of that, the reasoning that I believe in the Movement, could easily be the reason they don’t believe in it. It’s called ideological reasoning.
BLM resistors think we want to give black people golden tickets to the Wonka factory, when they assist life is just as hard for them — no different than a black man. That means they prefer to keep the world as they know it, even if it sacrifices someone’s father, brother, uncle, son, and husband. Understand this: the Movement believes in hard work and the freedom of effort. But even though hard work and effort is given, systems still work to keep black people at the end of the line getting scraps. They get only a few of the jobs. They get stared down in public. They get stopped more often by police. Only 60 years ago, black people were still facing Jim Crow laws. The difference for white people, even if they’re facing the American Struggle, is that they don’t have to be afraid of walking down the block. We need you to just help us to get them to stop killing innocent black people.
As a non-black minority, I feel the prejudice, too. White people have cast me aside as less in the past. I’ve wasted years feeling sorry for myself, because I don’t get the appreciation that white people do. And sometimes I want to give up trying to get the new job, promotion, speak up, or walk confidently in a room. So I can’t imagine how a black person feels walking into a job interview, or even boarding a bus or a plane. The glances when they walk into 7–11. I can’t imagine what it’s like when a landlord sees the black skin of a man who visits an apartment showing. And it happens every day.
The only answer — Time?
Black people just want to be treated like humans, not villains. So the real problem that BLM activists want to get across, is that the United States still treats them as villains. And you just have to believe us. Because you already don’t care about the evidence. Businesses don’t set up shops in their neighborhoods. Landlords push them to the outskirts of cities. Under-resourced public education refuses black children (or any color!) the resources to prosper. The police disproportionately resort to murder in too many cases of black crime. What’s wrong with accepting this and saying that’s bad?
BLM resistors say racism isn’t their fault. It’s the fault of people sailing a boat to the U.S from Africa 400 years ago. We agree with you. Slowly, the people 300, 200, and 100 years ago inched toward racial equality, realizing that it doesn’t make sense to treat people as property, or treat a pet dog better than a person. A few of them even fought for black people, and that’s why we’re here — this never-ending gray zone. Equal on paper but judgmental in our minds. The sentiments of the incensed who spit at Ruby Bridges, who called the cops on Rosa Parks, who hosed down black neighbors on sidewalks, they still exist today. They just remain under the covers until they can take their shot (cough, Sonya). There are racist people today. There are people who say the ’n’ word, the ‘c’ word, and make fun of black people behind closed doors. But most of all — they also kill innocent black people in broad daylight.
The same way slavery “ended” after the civil war, but integration took another 100 years, is exactly what people riot for now. Yes, integration occurred 60 years ago, but the sentiment of our grandparents didn’t dissolve overnight. It’s the opposite, they hang on to our fibers. Laws won’t eradicate racism just like Roe v. Wade passing didn’t make everyone suddenly accept pro-choice ideals.
We need you to believe us.
Some people believe the ideal, that black lives matter, but resist the BLM movement because it’s associated with rioting or anger. That’s not unusual. If we just yell BLACK LIVES MATTER at people who process our actions and intentions differently, their instinct is to attack because it appears threatening. So it’s not about convincing all BLM resistors that black lives matter. Some already believe it. It’s about asking them to join us, the majority of BLM activists, who don’t want to defund the police or tell white people off for just existing. It’s to help black people not have to work 5x as hard for the same opportunities as their counterparts. A life where people stop staring so goddamn much. The U.S. won’t lose anything by bringing black people up to the same level playing field as the rest of us. And if you can’t get behind that, just start by helping us get cops to stop killing innocent black men!
Some people (mostly white) don’t want to lose their foothold on this country. BLM will make the Mohammads and Rayshards get jobs preserved for the Ashleys and Mikes. BIPOCs will ‘get things for free’ that ‘privileged’ people have to work to obtain. I can try to understand how they feel by thinking about my job. My employer was recently acquired, and things are changing for the worse. I’m losing benefits, chance of promotions or raises, and a work culture I savored. Simultaneously, I’m told to be grateful I still have a job with the worsening pandemic. The founders of my original employer continue promising that this is for the best. I imagine white people are sick of people telling them that equality won’t effect them if they feel it already has. But is it? Yes, television and movies will feature more minorities. Minorities will outnumber white people some day (yes, that scares you). But why would you justify killing innocent black people because you’re upset about the way the world was built? Be angry, fine, just don’t kill black people.
We need to be a nation that protects Black people from unjust murders and systemic racism. It’s a non-negotiable. We have been BEGGING you, police officers, to stop killing unarmed black men for a decade (and everyone else killing black men for the past 400 years). The nation has proven time and time again that she is incapable of that. So that’s why we get louder.
It’s not my job to be as loud as some people are in this fight. Anger causes indignant reaction, and I want to share the world with you, not fight you for it.. My job is to learn, and share how I feel. A Movement was created in 2013, and as long as black people are mistreated, I want to follow it so other people don’t have to go through the worse versions of the racism I’ve faced myself.
I think about the MLK quote. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” That quote screws us over a little, because darkness isn’t always a bad thing like the quote and concept suggests. Darkness is the color of our skin. So when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, non-black minorities and white people must shut up and listen. In this case, Darkness will drive out darkness.
And the rest of us need to find it in us to follow.
*Outside of inputting racist phrases and clicking “I’m Feeling Lucky,” these last few weeks, I’ve also done the following: read James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time,” watched If Beale Street Could Talk, participated in the Seattle Silent March for BLM on June 13th, finished Insecure season 4, watched Yvonne Orji and Dave Chappelle comedy specials..etc etc. Okay fine, I also put the black box on Instagram.
**Each one of these has at least one logical fallacy. (1. red herring 2. genetic fallacy 3. Ad hominem 4. post hoc ergo propter hoc 5. straw man)
***I’m opposed to riots 99.9% of the time, but I’m not opposed right now, because racial injustice has gone far too long and no one listens unless you make noise.