It seems today more than ever black lives do not matter. The world goes into an uproar over a gorilla that is shot and killed but justifies the mass genocide of the black man by law enforcement. A quick trip through the history of African-Americans in this country will prove that black lives have never really mattered in America. The violence is definitely not new, but access to video footage is.
This injustice has gone on since slave ships shackled and forced people of color into a new normal. The problem is when it does not directly affect other races it is easy to say racism no longer exists and black people need to get over it. Racism is prevalent in America and is constantly reinforced by law enforcement. This is not a revelation nor a figment of anyone’s imagination. It is a constant reality. How can black America just get over it? Ironically, no one tells Jews they should get over the Holocaust – even though it is over.
Many are angered by the slogan, “Black Lives Matter” when in fact all lives matter. Yes, all lives do matter; however, not all lives are an endangered species like black lives. The universalizing politics of inclusivism is one of racial denial, dismissal, and ignorance. This especially rings true when people care more about animals than they do another human. Unless, black men are not considered human in this country. While some may argue that theory, what is undeniable for the most part is black lives have never mattered to the privileged portion of society.
What was the crime committed by many of the unarmed black men who have been killed? Being black in America. That is it. The crime is walking while being black, shopping, driving, speaking, going to the pool, all while being black. The worst crime of them all is being black in the hands of law enforcement. As painful as it sounds, simply being black is one of the largest crimes committed in these so-called United States of America. Why? Because black lives have never mattered. Black lives in America are the objects of social suspicion as their constitutive condition, their very being.
The violence is not new, instead, it is cell phones with cameras that capture all of the violence that is new.
To add insult to injury, instead of having a mission to keep peace within communities, police have now been unleashed as inland soldiers. They patrol urban neighborhoods as those on a warpath. When the psychology of those designed to protect turns violent, their behavior will follow. Instead of maintaining peace, while protecting and serving, police are now searching as predators while seeking to destroy.
If officers are soldiers, then neighborhoods become battlefields where the inhabitants are now the enemy. The targets being sought out consist largely of people of color, especially the black male. Throughout the country, police officers are killing black males at a ridiculous rate and waging literal wars on people like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. This would be an injustice at its finest if black lives mattered. They do not and have never mattered with many Americans.
Black lives may not matter to a majority, but they have a real presence in this country. They provided a great deal of labor on which America was founded. Black America is the face of strength and resilience; they have learned to survive in the face of death, humiliation, and oppression. African-Americans continue to exemplify dignity in the face of denial and humanity while constantly being humiliated.
Black lives do matter even as the struggle for justice, rights, and full citizenship appear bleak. While history contends that black lives have never mattered, it has now become necessary to insist, “Black lives matter,” and to proclaim it often and loudly. Yes, all lives matter, except when they do not; as is the case in a world laced with racial biases within a large portion of America, and more importantly, law enforcement.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
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Top Image Courtesy of Christopher Dombres – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of David Axe – Flickr License
Featured Image by Schynts Photography Courtesy of Florian Schynts – Flickr License