I have become very conflicted about my stance on the black lives matter movement, after very deep research and observation of the group I have come to realise the problems I have with the group and question whether I should support the movement any longer. However, the problems I have with the movement is not with its creed but rather the superficial image being portrayed by the group, their structure, tactics and actions carried out and it’s failure to acknowledge real black issues. I have come to see black lives matter as a group which only supports black lives inconsistently and as an almost misguided or even broken political group.
It is clear that the movement understands the basics of how institutional racism challenges the black population in the US, this is evident by looking at their official website:
“#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression. We have put our sweat equity and love for Black people into creating a political project–taking the hashtag off of social media and into the streets. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.”
the website highlights “black poverty”, the unfair incarceration of black males and unjust treatment of medical care towards black people too but the main focus is police brutality on the black community. The genesis movement started in response to the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, and thus the quest to stop the unfair justice system and prevent police brutality begun.
The movement places such heavy emphasis on black people being victims to the police, which I have no problem with. It is the neglect of other equally, if not more, pressing issues the black community faces. The main faces of the movement are very ready to state the obvious systemic racism but only manage to speak out on police brutality as the main problem in the US, even LGBT issues are discussed and promoted more by the black lives matter group than other more threatening issues the black community have to face. These neglected issues include black on black crime, socio-economic struggles, extremely high abortion rates of unborn black lives, lack of education for black children, these are things which I believe are just as important as police brutality yet I fail to see black lives matter movement acknowledge and push it forward.
This leads to my next problem with the movement, the structure and tactics the movement has. Regarding the structure, the founders of the movement state that there is no hierarchy or central control within the movement, Alicia Garza (one of the founders) has commented that the Network was not interested in “policing who is and who is not part of the movement”. This shows how loose the structure of the movement is and this leads to confusion in the media and among activists, as actions or statements from chapters or individuals are sometimes attributed to “Black Lives Matter” as a whole. Thus marches and protests which entice unreasonable violence and claim it is under the banner of black lives matter lead to a certain representation being formed of the group which they cannot reasonably reject. So there needs to be more control over who represents the movement and the tactics planned out, however, despite some main activists of the group stating that the movement does not advertise violence, those same activists I have found violently crashing rallies and parades to announce their messages. So is it actually unreasonable for some to think that the movement is violent? Furthermore, it makes the movement seem very hypocritical which makes it very difficult for me to support the movement.
The 1000’s of marches and protests over the years have come to what? the biggest achievement I will allow the movement to be proud of is making the problem of police brutality on the black community be recognised , as it should be known that the percentage of black people murdered by the police is disproportionate to the percentage of white people or any other race murdered by the police too. However, if BLM is able to use their social media tactics and protests for police brutality and LGBT issues, then why not highlight black on black crime? the undereducation black children face? etc. If there was a proper structure to the organisation then maybe they would be able to focus on more issues which are just as important as police brutality on black people in America – The problem with this form of tunnel vision is that not only does it trigger an anti-cop narrative within the community but it may allow a majority of the black community to even ignore that these other major issues are present making them seem non-existent, therefore, making progress in the community very difficult. BLM has the power of social media and should use it for these things, they should focus on how the black community can develop and not just point fingers and blame others – there has to be greater emphasis on the cause of these issues rather than the effects.
In addition, when there are protests which involve perpetuating an anti cop atmosphere and even violence are things which I cannot condone. This goes against the whole foundations of the movement. When well-known activists of the movement (e.g. Michael browns mother) condone the actions of the Dallas shooter who killed 3 cops, it deters me from promoting the movement as it seems to represent something which goes against my moral creed. What makes matters worse is that one of the cops who were killed in Baton rouge were black, black lives matter were silent. Montrell Jackson’s name and life were forgotten by the movement as his death didn’t seem to coincide with their motives. Montrell Jackson even highlighted how being a black cop is very difficult, proving the unreasonable anti-cop narrative present in the movement
Regarding black on black crime, Despite making up just 13% of the population, blacks committed half of homicides in the United States for nearly 30 years. DOJ statistics show that between 1980 and 2008, black people committed 52% of homicides.In 2013, black criminals committed 38% of the murders whereas white people accounted for just 31 percent.There are five times fewer black people than white people in America and, yet, they consistently carry out a larger share of the crimes? I am not implying that black people in America are inherently violent and dangerous or something of that nature, i am implying that these are effects of systemic racism in the black community but is taken as something which is a norm and is ignored by the movement.
Here is an example of how systemic racism is the cause of black on black crime and other issues in the black community. When Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, urban black communities across America were suffering from economic collapse. Hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs had vanished as factories moved overseas in search of cheaper labour, a new plantation. Globalisation and deindustrialization affected workers of all colours but hit African Americans particularly hard. Unemployment rates among young black men had quadrupled as the rate of industrial employment plummeted. Crime rates spiked in inner-city communities that had been dependent on factory jobs, while hopelessness, despair, and crack addiction swept neighbourhoods that had once been solidly working-class. Millions of black folks—many of whom had fled Jim Crow segregation in the South with the hope of obtaining decent work in Northern factories—were suddenly trapped in racially segregated, jobless ghettos.
These statistics show that black on black crime is a greater issue in the black community which needs to address but the movement fails to do that, even through their social media and hashtag tactics. By promoting individuals in power who seem to be out to benefit the black community should be within the movements tactics, such as, Mayor, councillor and President candidates – as stated above, When Clinton gained the black vote and became president, this set the black community back economically and lead to many disappointments, so it is important that the right people are placed in positions of power. In addition, promoting ways black individuals can develop financially and socially have to be placed into their social media schemes e.g. Investing tactics, supporting black companies. An economic reality as well as a social reality is something which has to be set and acknowledged in the movement if there are going to be any sort of progressive changes in the black community.
This is just one of many issues that BLM fail to acknowledge or highlight. When black lives matter begins to discuss the deep poverty in the community which leads to many children without and education and cut from opportunities in society causing them to resort to drug culture and gangs then I will begin to support the movement. When the issue of abnormally high rates of black unborn babies being aborted in the community is highlighted then I will support the movement. When the movement builds on its infrastructure and tactics then I will support the movement. When the movement truly becomes pro-black then I will support the black lives matter movement.