It has not been long since we marked the one year anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown, whose death (may he rest in power) sparked the Ferguson Riots. Not too long before we mourned the death of Trayvon Martin, and from those dark moments was born #BlackLivesMatter, founded by three Black women.
When the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag started trending and evolved into a new socio-political movement calling for justice and an end to the murder of Black women, men, and children, it was met, at least from many people of color and allies, with praise, being the rallying cry to gather, organize, resist, and mourn. However, almost immediately following it was a backlash. #AllLivesMatter was born as a response, attempting, I suppose, to counteract the movement.
I am not going to delve into why #AllLivesMatter is recklessly misguided and only works to uphold white supremacy, as so many others have eloquently and sometimes humorously demonstrated, I’ll just leave some of those links here. See below.
But even after a year of more Black people murdered by police, there are some people who are still hesitant about using #BlackLivesMatter.
Not to produce another binary, but this lack of engagement comes (mainly) in two forms.
1. The #AllLivesMatter people. These folk are overtly opposed to #BlackLivesMatter. To ya’ll, I’m not spending energy to educate you, but you’re wrong. Want to know why? Click on links above. After you’ve read them, thought about it, and still disagree – ok, we’ll chat.
2. The silent ones. These folk haven’t said much. Actually, they don’t say anything at all. They stay out of it, not using any hashtags (Black or All), post no articles, don’t offer any opinion, etc. However, their silence is very particular, because these folk are usually very outspoken about many other things. They cried for Cecil the Lion, were outraged by the Charlie Hebdo Attacks in Paris, praised Caitlyn Jenner for her bravery (not everybody was supportive), rainbow’ed their FB profile picture when gay marriage was legalized in the US, are always posting articles on climate change…you get the point. But when it comes to sharing, speaking, or hashtagging anything related to the continued murder of Black Lives? Somehow, they’re always on vacation somewhere with no wifi (while we all sip our Kermit approved green tea….)
The reason I am blogging about this is because I have a question. Why? Why are you able, why do you choose, to support social issues like climate change and/or gay rights, but unable to tweet/post #BlackLivesMatter?
Here I would usually go on about the why myself, providing a (theoretical) explanation. But I’m not going to, because I don’t speak for you. Rather, I invite you to engage with me, allowing you the space to answer the question. Why? While you should know my asking does come from a place of frustration, it also comes from a sincere desire to understand you. Furthermore, this isn’t coming from a place where I think “you should tweet #BlackLivesMatter”, because I don’t know your reason(s). Comment on the blog, on the post, message me privately, but this is an invitation where I will allow you to answer, and unless you want a response, I won’t provide one. Engage, please, unless you’re going to act like Donald Trump – then just unfriend me immediately. This will all be private, I give you my word. Only between us.
But before you answer, keep this in mind. Your silence communicates something to me. It tells me that you don’t value the lives of Black people. It tells me that you don’t care about the lives lost to police violence. It tells me that the people I love, my friends, members of my family, and my partner, are worth less in your eyes because of the color of their skin.
I say this to let you know that your silence has consequences, that it says something. Remember, neutrality is never neutral.
I wait for you. Hopefully you answer.