No, Not #AllLivesMatter

I will probably ruffle a few feathers with this one but here goes.

I’m sick of seeing this hashtag (#AllLivesMatter) everywhere at the moment. Yes, in a perfect world all lives would matter but the fact that the African American community feels the need to reiterate to the world that #BlackLivesMatter is testament to the fact that they don’t.

I am a white man, Western and Protestant. I am already born with more privilege than others purely because of those facets. Do they make me a bad person? Of course not; but they do make me privileged in ways that I cannot fully appreciate,  understand or recognise and in ways that automatically put me ahead of women, racial minorities and non-Christians in a predominately Western dominated culture and society. I can’t abide by this ‘let’s all hold hands because we are all the same’ attitude being peddled by those who are trying to empathise with the African American community in the US right now. We are not the same. If Michael Brown, Eric Garner or John Crawford has been white they wouldn’t have been killed.

I can be outraged by the acquittal of the Ferguson Police Officer who shot and killed unarmed Michael Brown. I can be incensed by the inequality faced by black men and women in the US when it comes to their statistically higher rate of stop and frisk, incarceration and police brutality. I can be heartbroken when I read a headline like that of the fatal shooting of Rumain Brisbon by police in Phoenix on Dec 6th or 12 year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland on Nov 22nd – both unarmed African Americans. I can be all of those things but I can never appreciate or understand the fear or the terror associated with being a young African American man. This extract from the Washington Post article written by Prof. Ranjana Natarajan demonstrates the kind of racial bias exuded by local police authorities in the US:

In a 2011 report, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights found evidence of widespread racial profiling, showing that African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately likely to be stopped and searched by police, even though they’re less likely to be found possessing contraband or committing a criminal act.

That same report (available here) goes on to say Empirical evidence confirms the existence of racial
profiling on America’s roadways. At the national level, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that for the year 2005, the most recent data available, “[p]olice actions taken during a traffic stop were not uniform across racial and ethnic
categories.” “Black drivers (4.5%) were twice as likely as White drivers (2.1%) to be arrested during a traffic stop, while Hispanic drivers (65%) were more likely than White (56.2%) or Black (55.8%) drivers to receive a ticket. In addition, Whites (9.7%) were more likely than Hispanics (5.9%) to receive a written warning, while Whites (18.6%) were more likely than Blacks (13.7%) to be verbally warned by police.” When it came to searching minority motorists after a traffic
stop, “Black (9.5%) and Hispanic (8.8%) motorists stopped by police were searched at higher rates than
Whites (3.6%). The “likelihood of experiencing a search did not change for Whites, Blacks, or Hispanics.

I am tired of seeing the hashtag #AllLivesMatter. This is the typical liberal privilege-oblivious response to how an entire minority is expressing their fear, anger and outrage that their sons are being taken away from them by the very tax-funded operatus that is designed to protect everyone. White people can help, we can empathise and we can support the movement but we cannot fully appreciate that fury. “Not all white people are like that.” is another stock response that is thrown out there. That’s true, but nobody said we were. Our privilege as whites and indeed white men makes us immune to the vagaries and vulgarities of a system that has a deeply racial and sometimes sexist bias.

We cannot police how those communities respond to their oppression or how they express their anger or their grief. We need to stop insisting that by saying #BlackLivesMatter that somehow other minorities are being excluded or by somehow those who feel the gut wrenching need to shout “Hands up don’t shoot” while they block roads in Ferguson, Cleveland, New Jersey are placing the rights of a community above the rights of others. That somehow they are asking for ‘special’ treatment. If that were the case then the US and it’s African American community would not be in the situation it is in now.

“Obama is the President so racism doesn’t exist any more.” By far one of the most offensive, ignorant and over-privileged statements I have ever heard. Yes Obama is the President but the fact that the media portrays it as a victory for the African American community in the US – “look how far they’ve come” – when in fact there have always been well educated and inspirational black leaders ready to become President. Their community hasn’t come a long way, it was already there – it was the system and the institutions that placed those leaders at rhe back of the bus that needed to catch up and still does.

I pray that no more mothers of African American men have to bury their sons because of the actions of trigger happy policemen. The police are supposed to protect us, defend us. We should not have to ask them to holster their weapons and think before killing another unarmed black man or woman.


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