The #shutitdown movement (or #icantbreathe, or whatever it’s going by today) seems to be off to a promising start. I remarked in an earlier post that this movement is unique in our time because of the diverse groups of people it has brought together, in some cases people who were vehemently opposed to one another prior to the Eric Garner case non-indictment. It seemed almost too good to be true – Americans of all political leanings and ethnicities finally uniting together against the corruption that has been the true enemy all along. Have no fear, we’ll be back to our normal in-fighting and disorganized, counter-productive divisions in a jiffy thanks to a growing sub-movement, stoked by people like this, and he/she is not alone. This post has already gone viral with a huge number of supporters.
So, if you’re actually here for making Black Lives Matter, put down your “I can’t breathe” signs (because you can, and that’s the point) and pick up one that declares Black Lives Matter (because right now they don’t, and that’s the point). Get off the ground and stand in solidarity as Black people “die-in” (because it’s not white bodies lying dead on our nation’s streets, and that’s the point). Hand over the bullhorn to a Black person (because your voice doesn’t need a bullhorn to be heard, and that’s the point).
And please, stop saying #AllLivesMatter…until they actually do.
First, I’d just like say to Mr./Ms. Tam… get the fuck out of here with this bullshit.
Second, let me nitpick your lack of reading comprehension/logic. You want people to stop saying “all lives matter” because, currently, in your opinion, black lives don’t matter. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure “ALL” includes black people. Even if it doesn’t… you want everyone to stop saying “all lives matter” because black lives don’t matter. Yet you want them to replace this slogan with… “black lives matter”? Isn’t that the very antithesis of logic? If you don’t want the original slogan to be used until black lives matter, then why the hell would it make sense to say “black lives matter” if black lives don’t matter? This is 2nd grade logic and reading comprehension. Clearly you don’t understand that the slogan, “all lives matter” doesn’t mean “all lives currently matter and there’s no issues here, carry on,” but actually means “all lives should matter and we are fighting for a system in which all lives will matter.” It is a message of unity, showing that we ALL stand together against injustice because ALL lives matter. Anyone that doesn’t understand that has no business writing posts telling people how to protest. Anyway, that’s just a jab at some stupidity. On to the real issues…
Police brutality is not a race issue. Police not being held accountable is not a race issue. Common people not being represented in the political process and justice system is not a race issue. Turning this movement into a race issue and pushing away non-black people is the fastest way to kill it. Want to play the race game? Okay, we can play the race game. The number of white people killed by police over the last decade is double the number of black people killed. Sure, you can adjust per capita, but that isn’t changing the absolute number of people that are no longer alive and how many of those people are white. So there is zero factual basis for this being a black only movement. Those white people standing next to you that you don’t seem to welcome?
As I walked through the streets of Berkeley tonight listening to the overwhelmingly white crowd chant things like “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” I felt uncomfortable. I passed white people holding signs that said “I can’t breathe” and I felt uncomfortable. Then, when we were instructed to sit down in the middle of the main street that runs through downtown Berkeley and were made to listen to a white person on a bullhorn declare “All lives matter!” I felt invisible. Ignored. Forgotten.
Those people who are making you feel uncomfortable and invisible? They’re getting tear gassed too. They’re getting beaten too. They’re getting arrested too. They care enough about the cause to endure all that right beside you. If your biggest concern is you not getting enough spotlight, then I think you need to go home and think about your priorities.
America has serious issues with a developing (or already existent) police state, police brutality, and police immunity from the law. These are not race issues. They are manifestations of systemic corruption and an out of control police force that no longer serves the interests of the common folk. Making this movement a race issue narrows the scope of the movement. Suddenly it’s no longer about all the things I just listed; it’s solely about police discrimination against blacks. In reality, police discrimination is merely one aspect of much larger problems with the American law enforcement system. Narrow the movement down and the solutions that come from the movement will be treatment of a symptom rather than cures for the real systemic disease. Fight your allies for the spotlight and I hope you feel good about perpetuating the divide and conquer techniques that kept the diverse number of people united by this movement apart previously.