Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Black Lives Matter - specifically

In response to the phrase, and movement, Black Lives Matter, sometimes phrased as #blacklivesmatter, I often see or hear "All lives matter!" And I didn't get why that was an inappropriate, even hurtful, response until I heard, yet again, in response to "Are you a feminist," some celebrity say something like, "No, I'm not a feminist. I'm a humanist. I fight for all humans." And I cringed all over - and then, bing, I got it.

When you say you are a feminist, you are NOT saying that women are better than men, that you hate men, that women should receive assistance but men shouldn't, etc. When, in response to being a feminist, you say you are not a feminist but, instead, you support all humans, what you are saying is: "Women have not been especially, particularly oppressed more than men. People have not been especially, particularly targeted for violence because they are women. Women don't need distinctive, purpose-built help to correct the history of violence, oppression and discrimination. Just give general help to all people and that general help is all women need to eventually be treated equally in the eyes of the law and society, to be paid the same for the same work as men, to get the same opportunities to life choices, etc." You are, in fact, dismissing feminism and all that it stands for.

I now cringe when, in reply to "Black Lives Matter", people say "All Lives Matter." I get it. Of course all lives matter - Black Lives Matter activists aren't saying otherwise. The Black Lives Matter movement is meant to focus on black Americans, specifically, because black Americans are being especially, deliberately targeted with violence and oppression, they are being singled out specifically for this mistreatment and discrimination not only because they aren't "white", but because they are BLACK. To respond with "all lives matter" is to say that you deny that reality, that you dismiss the specific, unique concerns and issues of Black Americans.

Tamar Rice was 12 and shot and killed on site by police, no questions asked by those police, doing what white kids do every day and are NOT shot for: playing with a toy gun - and in an open carry state, so even if we take the police at their word that they thought he was an adult with a gun, then he was, in fact, doing nothing illegal. John Crawford, also black, was shopping in that same open carry state - Ohio - at Walmart, and picked up a BB gun that wasn't packaged and had been sitting on the store shelf for two days, and continued to shop, and was shot and killed by police, no questions asked - while white people that do the same, or worse, aren't shot. The way black protesters in St. Louis were treated versus how the white and armed protesters in Eastern Oregon that are menacing people that live in and around Burns are being treated is stunning - and undeniable. These are but three examples of why Black Lives Matter.

It seems only right, given my enormous respect not only for Alan Rickman's art but also his political passion, to take a very public stand on this. And so, I am: Black Lives Matter.

1 comment:

  1. It took me a minute to figure out "white privilege".Once I got it,I see it for what it is.It's not a derogatory or racist term,it simply is what it is,a very real thing.