What your opinion about Black Lives Matter say about you
This is no uplifting horoscope or Buzzfeed quiz to tell you what character from “Parks and Recreation” you would go on a picnic with. No, there will be no mention of Ron’s favorite steak or Lil’ Sebastian, but there just might be the right amount of cringe depending on your viewpoint.
Over the summer, the United States witnessed the highest number of civil rights protests in our nation’s history and where you land in relation to the ideologies represented either at or against these protests says a lot about you.
You Believe in Black Lives Matter
So you believe Black Lives Matter (BLM)? That’s pretty cool, you’re likely a compassionate, understanding and educated individual. Your compassion has allowed you to appreciate the value in another human life and to understand that certain lives have been historically devalued and that’s clearly wrong.
As an understanding person, you might also be able to see how someone’s life is not inherently easy because they are White but that race is not one of the factors making their lives more difficult. You can understand how other people have lived experiences different from your own and that they’re still valid.
Your education and research-focused mind has helped you to see that Black Lives Matter is a movement meant to help give the Black voices that have often been muted or eradicated in America a platform. It is not meant to elevate Black people above other races but to give them an equal footing.
Additionally, you are not one to settle, you’re driven and passionate. You can comprehend the difference between patriotism and nationalism, giving you basic thinking skills; how cool! You can understand that being critical of one’s country and the problematic institutionalized systems within it is the sign of a true patriot, because a patriot wants to alter their country for the better.
On the other hand, you see how many people criticizing Black Lives Matter in the name of patriotism are often nationalists, individuals who follow their government or an institution blindly and silently, regardless of the merits of said organizations.
For a better understanding, every historical American figure we consider a hero was also a patriot. They wanted to change their country (either by freeing it from England, from slavery, from injustice, etc.). On the other hand, most historical villains were nationalists. Why didn’t German citizens stop the Nazis? Why didn’t the south immediately free slaves? Why were these people so evil? Well they weren’t just evil, they were also bystanders and nationalists.
So, on top of compassion, understanding, education and comprehension, you’re also going to be on the right side of history. Way to be.
You Believe in All Lives Matter
Yikes buddy… Are you sure this is where you want to align yourself? All Lives Matter (ALM) sounds like a nice sentiment until you realize it’s followers are willfully ignorant because they blatantly misinterpret the meaning behind Black Lives Matter. You’re sure you want to stick with this one? Okay then.
If you’re a believer in the All Lives Matter mantra you’re uneducated. You might think what you’re sending is a positive message about the value of all life, but instead you’re ignoring what Black Lives Matter actually stands for.
You would never go up to someone raising money to help fund research for a specific kind of cancer and scream in their face, “All cancers matter!” Why? Because you understand that that individual is not trying to argue over the placement of importance between one type of cancer and another, but that they are simply bringing attention to a problem. Yet, when you shout ‘All Lives Matter’ at Black Lives Matter supporters, you’re using the same line of reasoning as someone berating an individual trying to raise money for an important cause.
Of course all life has value and that’s not at all what Black Lives Matter is arguing against. BLM is not saying that Black lives are more important than “all” lives, merely that Black lives do in fact matter, in opposition to the historical pattern of undervaluing them. If you can’t get on board with the fact that Black lives simply matter, simply have worth, then you’re not just ignorant, you’re also a racist and a hypocrite.
If you feel threatened or upset by a group of people who have been systematically and repeatedly persecuted in American society simply asking for their basic human rights, yeah, you’re a racist. You see their oppression as necessary to upholding your privilege. In other words, their efforts towards equality seem dangerous to you. And if equality based on race is a threat to your person, it’s because you see race as integral to who you are and what you stand for. You’re a racist.
You’re also a hypocrite. You say ‘All Lives Matter,’ but all lives cannot matter while certain lives often matter less to so many people. Additionally, if you’re saying ALM, but you don’t want to protect immigrants, members of the LGBTQ+ community, all individuals of minority racial and ethnic groups, every person you disagree with and obviously Black individuals, then you don’t actually believe all lives matter, just those lives similar to your own.
Ignorant, spiteful, racist and hypocritical isn’t a good look on anyone. I would encourage you to do some research and do some soul searching because your fake attempt at empathy isn’t fooling anyone.
You Believe in Blue Lives Matter
Believing in this one is a real doozy. Somehow you’ve managed to confuse concepts of identity and profession. By seeing these two things as equal, you show you don’t understand race, history or respect. Calling that ‘stupid’ is a bit much, so we’ll just say you’re a little shortsighted.
Being a cop is a choice, being Black is not. You can’t say ‘Blue Lives Matter’ because blue lives don’t exist. You would never call someone working at Starbucks a ‘green life’ because they still retain their identity outside of work and largely within their job as well. They haven’t been raised their whole lives understanding themselves within the context of Starbucks. They have never had to answer on behalf of all other people who work at Starbucks. There was never a war in this country arguing to keep Starbucks workers enslaved (unless I missed a huge chunk of U.S. history).
As ridiculous as it sounds to think of a Starbucks worker as a ‘green life,’ equating their job to their social identity, is equally as ridiculous as trying to relate what it’s like to be Black to what it’s like to be a cop. A job is not an equivalent to race.
On top of this you either don’t know the history of the police force or do and don’t care, making you either uneducated or racist, or likely, both. Police lives, unlike Black lives, have never been at threat of erasure or eradication. If the police force were to disappear those individuals in those positions would find another career. Black people, despite many people trying, are not going to disappear and couldn’t choose to ‘quit’ being Black.
The increased police militarization due to recent protests just proves how empowered the police force is. Resistance from Black people has never given them more power than other citizens; in fact, attempts against the erasure of Black Americans have often led to devastation, oppression and death towards Blacks.
Where Black Americans had to fight to be thought of as a whole person, fight for the right to vote, fight against Jim Crow laws, fight against segregation and fight for basic human decency on the part of Whites, cops have always been welcomed by their communities. Certain bars offer free drinks to cops and restaurants offer free meals. Children in this country have been taught to think highly of police officers and many have appreciation days in school for them.
Cops have never faced the valid fear Black individuals have from childhood to adulthood. Any cops who currently remain fearful in their position do so because they are either emboldened by their power and don’t want to lose it, are scared at the idea of being prosecuted for crimes they’ve committed or are facing the first real accountability in their job.
As a Blue Lives Matter supporter, you’re also likely hypocritical. Most of your arguments involve the importance of respect, while your entire platform is inherently disrespectful. You likely argue that we should be more respectful to those individuals who put themselves in a dangerous position for their communities.
However, it is disrespectful to compare a job to a social identity. Especially when that social identity was used as an excuse to force millions to endure atrocities such as slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and blatant racism. It’s disrespectful because the police force was started as a way to keep slaves in chains post-abolition and now you’re comparing them to each other, ignoring that racist history.
It’s disrespectful to the families who have lost loved ones at the hands of the police. While they struggle through the loss of a child, a mother, a father or a friend you defend their murderers and the institution that brought about their deaths.
It’s disrespectful only a few days after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back in front of his three sons, due to his desire to be a good samaritan and break up a fight, to say Blue Lives Matter. If you look with admiration at a cop who would, like a coward, shoot a father in the back without a look of empathy, or Breonna Taylor in her sleep, or Elijah McClain who was killed for being Black and autistic or any number of other Black Americans who died by the hands of those meant to ‘protect’ them, then not only are you a racist, you’re a monster.
If a police officer choses that career, they should be held accountable for choosing a job that was built on the backs of slaves. A job that has been historically and repeatedly racist and has caused harm to so many Americans. If you cannot answer for that or refuse to, there’s no helping you.
I’m Staying Out of It
Human right issues a little above your pay grade? Sorry, but you don’t get to ‘opt-out’ of being a decent person. If you have the opportunity to use your voice or your privilege to help your fellow human and you chose not to, you’re simply selfish.
If being silent is convenient for you, you’re privileged enough for that to even be an option. Millions of people are forced to be a part of the conversation due to factors beyond their control, but you have control and by not saying anything you’re saying so much.
Maybe your family aligns themselves with ALM or Blue Lives Matter and you don’t feel like you can speak out. Maybe you worry you’ll lose friends or followers if you say something. Maybe you feel that any sort of action outside of believing it in your own head is performative.
But what does it say about you that you can’t even bring up this topic around people who you love and care about? What does it say about your friends or the people who follow you that they might have issues with what you say? What does it say that you fear your action being viewed as performative because publicly taking a stand on an issue like race isn’t something ‘you’ would do?
Consider these things because remaining silent or not doing everything you possibly can is providing a narrative, even if it’s one you don’t choose to take control of.
You can’t be a good person and do nothing here. Good people don’t stay silent or only do what they see as convenient for them. Good people go above and beyond, even when it is difficult. When someone suggests they’ve done something wrong, as I am now, they don’t get defensive and cut themselves off to improvement. They absorb, reflect and try to become a better person for it. Please attempt to do so.
Why is this a sad test?
This is a sad test because this should all be basic stuff. If you can’t accept a movement that simply suggests Black life has value, you’re a racist. You either know that already and don’t care or you need to reconcile with that.
If you say you don’t like BLM because of looting or because you think that it’s racist, you need to do some self-reflection. We are a country with hundreds of years of oppression against Blacks and you’re more concerned about property damage? How much then is a life worth to you? Apparently less than broken windows, so you really shouldn’t be shouting All Lives Matter or even Blue Lives Matter.
If you see BLM as a political program or as a terrorist group, and not as a human rights campaign, you’re neither doing your research nor are you fully appreciating the scope of what it would feel like to experience systematic racism.
All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter are unhelpful to those who truly need recognition and they rely on oppressive and racist ideology. These groups will go down in history as a counter-force to progress as will their followers. The rest of the world already seems to feel shame on these groups’ behalf, as many Americans do as well. I only hope for everyone’s sake that followers of such ideals change their tune.