“White liberals of the 60s, many of whom saw any statement of Black pride and self-assertion as an automatic threat to their own identity and [as] an attempt to wipe them out” -Audre Lorde
The echoing sounds of a hurting nation, screaming black lives matter. In light of the recent killings of many of our unarmed black men, we want to tell the world that our lives matter. There has been no justice, there will be no peace and it is a pattern that we are tired of being repeated. As the internet is littered with articles, the news is filled with stories, and the life of another black man is taken; we take to the streets and say black lives matter.
However, so many white people see our assertion of our worth as a direct threat to the value of their life. By merely pointing out that we live in a society that socially, economically, historically, and culturally gives certain privileges to white people we are somehow diminishing their whiteness. By saying that black lives matter does not mean that all lives don’t matter, it means that my life matters as well, not more. Why is saying that black lives matter such a threat to the identity of your whiteness? This “is based on the fallacy that… my defining myself will somehow prevent or retard your self definition.” Audre Lorde: Scratching the Surface. Proclaiming that black lives matter seems to be a direct threat to white supremacy.
Supremacy: the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status.
The black lives matter movement is not the same as black supremacy or black racism. The black lives matter movement is about inequality in a justice system that is meant to keep us down. It is about receiving the same treatment and the same benefit of the doubt as our white counterparts in the eyes of the law. It isn’t about dominance or superiority. It is about how we no longer want to be responsible for our own deaths or the violence that is brought upon us. Your insecurity of the threat that the assertion of black lives matter, is a reflection of your fear to lose your white supremacy. In no way has the movement said black lives matter more than other lives. The movement says black lives matter the same as other lives. Yet the same people who scream ‘not all white people’ are the same people who say ‘well if black people weren’t criminals then…’ and are quick to generalize a whole race of people when it is their race being “threatened”.
It is not okay to diminish the struggle of a people because it makes YOU uncomfortable. By diminishing someone’s struggle is to have a complete lack of empathy. Recognizing that black lives matter isn’t erasing the fact that you may have personally struggled in your life. Black lives matter is about how no matter your socioeconomic standing, as a black person your worth is always questioned. Black lives matter is about how statistically %40 of the prison population is black, yet black people only make up 13% of the population. Some people will see those numbers and see the flaw in black people themselves. Doing this without examining the results of a society that wasn’t meant to protect us, but to punish us especially when we are content in our blackness.
We have been tricked into thinking that this a post racial society. So it’s easy for those who have not experienced racism to say it’s not about race. We have been taught that slavery ended with the civil war. We have been taught that segregation, racism, prejudice and hate ended with the Civil Rights Act. We were tricked into thinking that racism ended when we elected a black President or because there are successful black people. Which in turn means racism is over because some of us are allowed to thrive. We were not meant to survive. When black people were enslaved it was because we deserved our enslavement because we were inferior. When we were segregated, it was separate but equal because integration would be the death of a nation.
We get killed in the street with our hands up, we get killed in the street for walking in a hoodie in the wrong neighborhood, we get killed in the street for committing a misdemeanor, we get killed for holding a BB gun in a store that sells them, we get killed in the street for being a child playing with a toy gun, we get killed in the street with our hands cuffed behind our backs, we get killed in the street for playing loud music, we get killed in the safety of our own home, we get killed for being black, we get killed for existing. When the color of your skin is enough probable cause for suspicion and sometimes the only cause for suspicion, then maybe I can understand this so-called threat you feel from the black lives matter movement.