Of course some people are going to see the initial heading of this and dismiss the information contained in this blog outright. That is fine as that is their right. However for this blog and for this entry we shall explore black lives matter as a hashtag and movement.
How did it all come to this? That question has been hurled around a lot but it would appear to have a pretty solid answer. Shortly after the Trayvon Martin case where George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges after shooting Trayvon Martin causing fatal injury the black lives matter movement was born. According to the Feminist Wire the movement was started by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. The movement was created as a form of a protest and a call to action to fight back against the oppression of black people.
If someone believed that the Trayvon Martin case was the only case where the #blacklivesmatter would be invoked that person really needs to brush up on recent history. Shootings of unarmed black people, police brutality and even political events such as those shouting, “black lives matter” at a Bernie Sanders speech are just a few of the situations where the hashtag has been invoked.
It would appear that at base level, especially given the fact that there has been historical and even current day unfair treatment of black people, that the hashtag movement and call to action is completely justified. But like any movement there will almost inevitably be the radical elements and elements that are perpetually offended no matter what the situation is.
A good place to start to reveal some of this double think is the shooting of an unarmed black man by the name of Walter Scott in Charleston, South Carolina on April 4, 2015. The black lives matter movement was seen in full force in Charleston. But was it really outrage that a white police officer in Michael Slager shot an unarmed black man or was it just another way to be outraged? Of course anyone who has actually been to Charleston, South Carolina has to know that it isn’t unusual to see someone get murdered. In fact in 2014 alone, according to Death Penalty Info out of all 50 states South Carolina ranked in the top 4 for the most rate of homicides per 100,000 citizens. In fact the FBI released a 2014 report that shows that North Charleston, a neighbor of Charleston, was one of the worst cities to live in if one wanted to avoid murder.
So if all of the above facts are true where was all the outrage when there was so much murder going on for such a long time before Walter Scott was even chased and shot down by a police officer? Is it really that black lives mattered to these protesters or does the color of the shooter make all the difference? Apparently so. Because since Walter Scott was tragically gunned down there have been more than a few murders with black people as victims but also as perpetrators. If black lives really mattered to these people and if the color of the shooter doesn’t matter where exactly is the outrage? When one asks such questions an all too common reply of claims of derailing, a labeling of racism, angry outbursts, demonizing, labeling one as a “coon” or “Uncle Tom” if the person asking the question happens to be black or one can experience the sound of crickets.
Okay, so maybe the hashtag movement has done some wrong but there are good things, right? Well yes of course. Highlighting some of the struggles of black people always helps. What a lot of people fail to realize is that many who would identify with the hashtag movement like Alicia Garza are also outspoken critics of gender based violence which funny enough Alicia never addresses that South Carolina ranks #1 in the whole country number of women killed by men but focuses more on white police officers who kill unarmed black people. Kind of fishy but let us not forget all the good those who identify with the hashtag have done. Everything from community service, helping those who have been the target of racial bias and highlighting many abuses of power by politicians and police departments around the country has done quite a bit of good.
But then there are the obvious problems with the movement. Again, radicals will exist. None serves as a more obvious example of this than the whole University of Missouri case. What happens when black lives matter goes too far or people who would identify with the hashtag go way too far? Consider this exchange and be the judge for yourself. Now if you watch the video in its entirety you will notice that Melissa Click who is an assistant media professor at the University of Missouri is physically assaulting Tim Tai, an Asian American photojournalism student, and encouraging others to remove Mr. Tai. This is what happens when black lives matter goes too far. Tim Tai was even accused of being a white supremacist as if the Ku Klux Klan is suddenly taking Asian American applicants.
So where are you? Is black lives matter a hashtag trying to seek change or is it a hashtag used as a weapon? Be sure to leave a comment and share your feelings.