We Ain’t Done Yet: #BlackLivesMatter
Years after slavery, we still have to say it. Years after segregation, we still have to say it. Years after the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, we still have to say it. Decades later, Black people still have to protest the deplorable, dehumanizing way that we’re treated in the good ole U.S. of A.
Years after all those events and it seems that non-Black people, especially white ones, still don’t see why Black people shouldn’t be brutalized. And this time, the protests are worldwide. There is video evidence showing exactly the kind of callous, inhuman treatment we face at the hands of law enforcement officers. Videos that we grow accustomed to seeing. Posts about the newest Black victims of police-sanctioned murders that we know are coming. It’s to the point where I sometimes wonder if I should one day meet the same grisly fate as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Korryn Gaines, Atatiana Jefferson, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Shantel Davis...and the list of the murder victims goes on seemingly forever.
Every Black person knows the feeling. The “That could be me” thought that runs through your mind, creeping through your subconscious like a sniper, a fear ready to strike every time you leave the safety of your home. The feeling of icy dread that makes your parents give you one more “Be careful” talk before you go out.
For everyone who REFUSES to understand what the protests are for, they’re for that. They’re to stop the sadly necessary tradition of Black parents having to give their children The Talk about how to behave when in the vicinity of the police in order to stay alive. They’re to open the eyes of non-Black people to whom our deaths are simply a trendy hashtag. Non-Black people, ESPECIALLY white people, BLACK FOLKS ARE TIRED. We’re tired of having to defend our right to live. And we’re for damn sure tired of having to waste energy trying to educate you on how to have empathy for people who don’t look like you. (Google is, in fact, free, boo-boo. You know those same fingers you use to Google Spongebob memes? Use those. ) The most insidious things about those who don’t understand why protesting is necessary are how indifferent they are to our pain and how easily they are swayed by racist narratives. Today, I saw that in action for myself when the mayor of my tiny hometown used disturbingly familiar dog whistle verbiage to describe the town’s #BlackLivesMatter protest, labeling the protestors as “agitators and others...who have grievances with the [town police department] or [his] administration.” Though he preached solidarity, the mayor’s past decisions regarding police brutality and law enforcement overstepping boundaries made his seemingly vocal support of BLM seem dubious. Many were disturbed by his sudden decision to stage a “peace and justice” walk, as his brother, a town police officer who made headlines for allegedly beating a Black teenager, had been given nothing more than the minor inconvenience of a court appearance for the very thing that #BlackLivesMatter stands against.
Not only did the mayor’s support seem disingenuous, his initial post about his walk slid in claims that people were using protests to “attack law enforcement” and was peppered with other dog whistle phrases that many Black folks know all too well.
As of right now, the Facebook post about the events of the mayor’s “solidarity” walk and the actual BLM protest now has 120 positive reactions from his intended audience—which seems to be easily-influenced, majority non-Black people.
And that’s only one example. There are thousands of other instances where law enforcement and other public officials use faux solidarity with the Black community as a way to sneak anti-Black, pro-police rhetoric into the conversation.
At some point, enough is enough. I, for one, am a Black woman who’s not staying quiet about change until it happens. I’ve already lost some acquaintances and even the support of a few family members who got caught up in the All Lives Matter cult. And while that sh*t hurts, the hashtag toe tags hurt more. So I’ll keep talking. I’ll keep typing. And I’ll damn sure keep squawking to whoever will listen. Why? Because people’s hurt feelings and sensibilities don’t f*cking matter. You know what does? Black lives.
Black. Lives. Matter.