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  • Writer's pictureMario Mainland

A response to Black Lives Matter

I’ve been hearing this term so much the last few months… Black. Lives. Matter. It’s played on repeat and on every platform out there, from news websites to talk shows to tweets that are featured on news websites, spoken about on talk shows and round and round it goes. It’s become like an earworm that can now only be exorcised by either singing along, or if you’re like me, by researching to understand and thus have an informed opinion.

BLM, to me, is a bit of misnomer. Of-course black lives matter. Do bad things happen to black people? Yes. Do they happen to black people disproportionately to other ethnicities? Yes and no. It is simply not something that can be either blindly accepted or dismissed and if we’re honest, it really depends on the country you’re born in, perceived stereotypes of the community you live in, money in the bank or even position in the public eye. Our society is built on laws and principles that safeguard, for the most part at least, the lives off all its law-abiding citizens. Was it bad what happened to George Floyd? Yes. Were the perpetrators arrested and charged? Also, yes.

Let me ask you this – how many people know the name Terry Timpa (a white male)? The video of his arrest and death at the hands of police was uploaded on YouTube 11 months ago. He was suffocated, face down on the ground, with a police officer’s knee in his back. Sound familiar? BLM was founded in 2013 and since then many terrible and unjust black deaths received front page attention and public outrage. How many white deaths at the hands of police got the same coverage? Then, ask yourself why… I’ll get to that later. (Coleman Hughes’ has a good podcast and is worth a listen)

The purpose of the phrase, Black Lives Matter, at least the original ethos it represented, was to deal with deep cultural issues that manifested in two specific ways: Systemic racism and police brutality that somehow became more viral than Covid-19.

Is it still something that strives only for equal and just treatment for black people? Or has it become something else? I think a lot of us are unsure, so let’s look at it in three different ways:

On the face of it, Black Lives Matter, as a banner for the movement, is itself problematic (whether you care to admit it or not).

- The continuous affirmation is like there is a need for other ethnicities to provide a kind of unhealthy validation that, yes, your life does indeed matter (as if it didn’t matter before and that it’s a revelation the whole world had been blind to). It also enables liberals to put a BLM hashtag on their t-shirts to make them feel like their making a difference (which they aren’t)

- By saying black lives matter, whether intended to or not, there is an implied exclusivity, that by definition rejects and devalues the lives of those with skin colour that isn’t black – which is exactly the kind of bigotry the movement apparently advocates against

- When all this emphasis is placed on one demographic, it takes away from the suffering and loss of others that also endure hardships and unjust persecution – why would their plight not be as worthy?

- From a psychological point of view, in my opinion, someone that keeps hearing black lives matter all day will start feeling that their lives not only matter, but that they are somehow owed something by the world, and in some cases, they will simply take what’s ‘owed’ if the world doesn’t pony up. That’s a looter mentality in case it isn’t obvious. Cops will see this attitude shift and act in ways equally out of sync with what the protest is actually trying to achieve. Read up about mob mentality and you’ll see how irrational people can be, especially if you’re already predisposed to virtue signaling and negative stereotypes and a narrative of division constructed by the media that simply can’t be trusted anymore

Let’s then dive deeper and look at the Manifesto on the official BLM website; some key points:

“We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.” But you don’t. The current narrative espoused by the mainstream media the world over is that black people are the sole victims of discrimination across the board and those that are different are to blame. To give credence to a celebration of differences, you need to look further than the cultural variance among those with the same complexion.

“We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.” This is a contradiction. You cannot work for freedom and justice for only one particular group, at the expense of another, and then claim triumph for everyone. And yes, when members of other ethnicities, with no ties to slavery or privilege, with no advantage or benefit derived from said privilege, are made to feel guilty about the color of their skin, your efforts are not good or worthwhile by extension.

“We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.” This is maybe the biggest issue. To glorify struggle, to call it beautiful, means you will always look for a reason to pick a fight. To struggle is sometimes necessary, but it is a step in a process toward resolve, not a thing that must be clung to, at all cost, to restore whatever you feel is lacking.

“We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. This seems that you value ethnicity above all else. I refer to point one above where differences are to be celebrated according to the manifesto. When you are unapologetically one thing then you are explicitly contrary to anything else. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. Honestly, I don’t even know what this means? To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.” So your default position is that you do not want freedom and justice for all people. Black people first, then the rest. That is the height of hypocrisy and, in fact, doesn’t sound like black lives matter anymore, but more like black ideals matter more. And if I must consider BLM’s ideology synonymous with that of all black people, then how can we agree? Like Terry Crews said on CNN, we must be careful that Black Lives Matter does not morph into Black Lives Better.

“We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender (a term for people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth) privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.” Why do you have to dismantle one demographic to uplift another? Since when am I privileged by virtue of identifying with what I have naturally between my legs since birth? If another, different group of people is discriminated against, it is not because of my privilege, but because of that particular transgressors’ ignorance and bigotry. That’s it, no need to call it anything else.

“We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.” Again, I am not sure exactly what this means. Are you trying to say that fathers are also now being targeted or deemed not good enough? I work and provide and look after my son every day. Or at least as much as I possibly can. I may sometimes fall short of mom, but I always strive to be just as good. If you think there’s a patriarchal practice that needs dismantling, perhaps the thought was inspired by what you saw in the mirror.

“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.” This is the third thing that needs dismantling or disruption. Why? Why do you have to destroy something to improve it? Do we need to break the foundation of a ‘two-parent-and-their-children-family’ for a Black Lives Matter movement to be successful? Millions and millions of people, black and white, subscribe to the nuclear family structure and are perfectly content. And supporting and receiving support from extended family is not counter to Western norms, nor is it something that can be claimed as exclusive to BLM.

But what do the numbers say?

Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by police. Clearly that’s an issue. But black people also commit nearly 4 times more murders, and it could be said that there’s a strong case for correlation between the two. Perhaps it does contribute to the stats and stereotypes, but I personally think there’s more to it. Despite being only 13-14% of the population, more black people are unemployed than white – nearly 2 black people for every 1 white person. More unemployment, leads to more crime and inevitably leads to more encounters with the police. More arrests mean more breadwinners are put in jail, and that’s when people look to deadly gangs and drugs to fill the void left by absent parents. And when gang numbers increase, so do the firearms in circulation; a factor that you must consider when looking at the numbers and ask, how many of the victims were actually armed in confrontations with police – who also lost 38 officers by being shot and killed in the line of duty in 2019.

So it’s relatively clear that there is a systemic issue. How much of it is (or was) race based, and how much of it is due to the aforementioned self-defeating cycle, is anyone’s guess.

Now, after thinking about it, reading about it, analyzing it, my conclusion is this:

I agree with #BlackLivesMatter. But in principle only. Not with what is contained in the manifesto and certainly not to the extent that it is at the expense of the dignity of another group of people. It is possible to acknowledge the past and make reparations without devolving into Facebook name-calling, burning and looting of public property and physical violence to bring your point across. Difficult, but possible.

Jordan Peterson put it best, and I’m paraphrasing – Ideologies, like BLM, is a low-resolution representation. If you ask a three-year old to draw a helicopter, it will likely be two circles connected by a line and maybe a third rotor-circle on top. If you look at it, you can see it’s a helicopter, but no one will expect it to fly. If you want it to change into a real helicopter capable of flight, or in BLM’s case, a true movement capable of real change, you’ll have to increase your focus and concentration on every single element of it. And unfortunately, that takes a lot of effort and generally people are not interested in the details.

The societal systems are broken and driven by profit, not by prosperity. No surprise, really. Racism, especially in the US, where BLM originated, could be to blame for the initial inequality in employment, and gangs and drug use (and other societal issues) could be to blame for the continuation of it. Both sides have been wrong, yet neither want to meet in middle. And the media revels in the conflict. As they say, if it bleeds, it leads.

And without being too conspiratorial, a nation divided does not pay attention to the real motives and plans and transgressions of those that govern. But let me put it to you like this. BLM is an organization now, taking in lots of money from sales of merchandise and donors. As per their website, your contribution would go to ActBlue – “a charitable organization formed to democratize charitable giving”. And they define themselves thusly, “ActBlue is a nonprofit technology organization established in June 2004 that enables left-leaning nonprofits, Democrats, and progressive groups to raise money on the Internet by providing them with online fundraising software. If you then go to a website called (The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit, nonpartisan research group), you can see how ActBlue distributes the money it receives. Top vendors / recipients: 1.) Bernie Sanders = 186mill USD, 2.) Biden for president = 119mill USD, 3.) Elizabeth Warren = 96mil USD… Not a single black person or group out of a list of 10. Where is the black empowerment BLM supposedly stands for? Maybe, just maybe, it’s more logical to conclude that, the more racial unrest there is, the more black people are victimized, the more people will donate to a once noble cause, the more money democrats receive to make a bid for the white house to push their agenda. Do you see?

Is the Klu Klux Klan bad? Yes. Does it mean all white people all are part of it? No.

Are gangs bad? Yes. Are all black people part of a gang? No

Is police brutality bad? Yes. Are all police officers out for blood? No, BUT, from what I can tell, it is certainly something that needs to be addressed. Now, will it be remedied by defunding the police? Absolutely not. I would rather see them get more funding for programs and training that would improve interactions with civilians. Below extract is to illustrate the point and is from as at July 1, reporting on CHAZ (The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, an occupation protest and self-declared autonomous zone in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, United States):

“The CHAZ saga began on June 8, under the premise that capitalism, police brutality, and the “fascist regime” of Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan were upholding a social order that systemically oppressed African-Americans. Black Lives Matter and Antifa-affiliated activists hoped to create a new regime based on familiar social-justice principles of recent years: they established a social order based on a “reverse hierarchy of oppression,” implemented race-based segregation in public spaces, and maintained a “police-free zone” that they believed would protect “people of color” from the depredations of the state… As it turns out, however, maintaining public order is a complex undertaking and can’t be replaced by academic symbolism… Ultimately, the problem of violence—and a dangerously naive understanding of policing—doomed the CHAZ. Over its 24-day history, the autonomous zone saw two gun homicides and four additional shooting victims. All the identified victims were black men—precisely the demographic for whom the CHAZ had claimed to offer protection. In the absence of a legitimate police force, armed criminal gangs and untrained anarchist paramilitaries filled the void. Almost every night, gunshots rang through the streets. The first homicide victim was killed in an outburst of gang violence; the second, reportedly unarmed and joyriding in a stolen car, was gunned down by the “CHAZ security force”. In the end, the homicide rate in the CHAZ turned out to be 1,216 per 100,000”

*You can never change a racist society, whatever your measure, by waving a racist flag, regardless of intention. Two wrongs still don’t make a right. And this current trajectory, that now forces people to kneel out of fear of persecution, will never have a conciliatory outcome. How many of the celebrities supporting BLM have actually read and agree with the manifesto? How many of you have?

There is only one way we end the fighting. Only one way to make racism go away for good. And that is to STOP TALKING ABOUT IT (thank-you Morgan Freeman). REPORT racism wherever you see it, but stop putting it in the spotlight and twisting the news to fit an agenda. Stop referring to people as white this and black that (I’m looking at you Trevor Noah). Just stop and think about what would happen if we cared for each other the way we try to put each other down. Between work and Covid-19 stresses and keeping food on the table, who really has any time left for race wars, fear mongering and destruction of property? I don’t. But if you do, if you really do, then focus that energy on trying to change the leaders that pit us against each other. That fail to fix what divides us. It’s the governments and the systems they have put in place that deserves your attention. Hating the guy next to you because he’s black or white or whatever colour will not keep the lights on, will not send your kids to university, will not care for your sick loved ones.

*Remember, it’s a thin line these days between supporting a movement and contributing to a narrative. One brings about change and the other strengthens the divide, and you owe it to your family and the future of your children to know the difference. Your life matters regardless of skin colour. You deserve to be treated with equality and respect no matter where you’re from and no matter what anyone says.

Remember your past suffering. Let us learn from it. Revel in your heritage. But when we fight for freedom, justice and equality #RaceDoesn’tMatter

P.S to Faf du Plessis

"A race problem is a human race problem, if one part of the body hurts, we all stop, we empathize, we get perspective, we learn and then we tend to the hurting part of the body. So I am saying that all lives don't matter UNTIL black lives matter. No Faf, all lives matter, all the time. There is no prerequisite for that to be true. Where was the outage when brutal farm murders were / are taking place? Did those lives matter? Or will they only matter when black lives do? Do you see how nonsensical it is? We need to stand together to fight unfairness and discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head! But we can only do it together when we stop seeing everything as black and white and them vs us.

I love my teammates, no matter the colour. We fight, we disagree but, WE are family…”” Great, but what kind of family is it where some members’ lives are more important than others? Our ancestors got it wrong, we can literally feel the ripples of their actions hundreds of years ago. But guess what. They’re dead and we’re alive and we can be better. And Faf, I’m sure that not one of your black teammates would ever turn to you and say, brother, your life doesn’t matter.

Don’t let the past define us, don’t let the media divide us, we’re all in it together.

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