The Black Lives Matter Movement was created to demonstrate once again the evil and brutality that continues to visit upon people and communities of color and that the nation must finally deal with the issues of racism, lack of affordable housing, high unemployment in African American communities, inadequate health care, racial injustice and systemic, intentional and purposeful discrimination, that has plagued the country from its inception. Over the years people of color have peacefully assembled and petitioned for redress of grievances. Black American citizens have sat in, slept in, stood in, studied in, prayed in. As the Black Lives Movement has done, people of color have waged their struggles nonviolently in the spirit of love, appealed to the fundamental morality of the nation, and the nation’s conscience. The response has been bloodied heads and broken limbs, bombed churches and burned homes, assassinated leaders and murdered followers, broken spirits, crippled hopes, dashed and shattered dreams.
Many white citizens resent the Black Lives Matter Movement and have resorted to drastic measures in tearing down and painting over Black Lives Matter signs contending that all lives matter. We now have armed pro Trump vigilantes and white nationalist caravanning through the town of Kenosha Wisconsin waving flags and firing paintballs at protesters, a young white seventeen-year-old Kyle Whitton killing two protesters and injuring another protester in Kenosha Wisconsin, an outsider from an adjoining state claiming that he came to protect local businesses. These groups are infiltrating peaceful protest marches with the aim of creating chaos, smearing, and casting doubt and dispersion upon the Black Lives Matter Movement.,
The truth of the matter is that all lives cannot matter until Black lives, (people of color) are no longer treated as invisible beings ,until Black people’s lives are no longer routinely snuffed out by demented white police officers, until Black men and women are no longer being pulled over, stopped, harassed, arrested, killed and or beaten without consequences to the perpetrators. If all lives matter why is that only Black men and women are living in constant fear of losing their lives to police brutality, and telling their children do not get in trouble with white police officers who are becoming increasingly more openly aggressive. Residents of communities of color are having to live under the fear and treats that they could be killed any day by a white police officer.
The question is raised, if all lives matter, why is it factual that Black men and women are the targets of racial injustice, killed and murdered in greater numbers than other race citizens, young black men like Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back by a white police officer (using deadly force) in Wisconsin as his children watched in terror, African Americans are last to be hired and the first to be fired from the job. If all lives matter why is that young African American men like Ronnie Long of North Carolina (and a host of other black males) have been sent to prison for years for crime that they did not commit. Long was sentenced and served 44 years for rape in a prison cell by an all-white jury, when white prosecutors purposely withheld evidence that would have exonerated Long and was recently released at a time when the glow and meaning of life have passed and is of little or no moment. Others question, if all lives matter, why is it that the unemployment rate for Blacks is twice that of white Americans (around 17-19 percent for blacks, and 6-8% for white Americans)? Why is it that African American communities suffer greatly because of blatant acts of racism, poor schools, gerrymandering, black voter’s suppression, lack of quality health care, high incarcerations? Why is it that we see police officers with guns drawn in Black communities against Black citizens, more noticeable why is that it is only in communities of color that you see white police officers handcuffing black citizens including kids, perching their knees on their necks and holding their knees firmly there until the suspect is no longer able to move and breath or in the case of George Floyd, he passed away while pleading “I can breathe”?. If all lives matter, why do innocent citizens find themselves subject to “No knock laws” which allow police immediate access to ones dwelling when they often shoot and kill residents? Finally, if all lives really matter why in heaven are racist vigilantes permitted to apprehend unarmed African American men driving or jogging through a predominately white neighborhood, contending that the person was there to rob, an altercation ensues and the jogger is shot and killed and there is no formal investigation or arrest until several months later when there is public outcry and embarrassment to the local establishment??? In Kenosha Wisconsin we saw a young white male after killing two protest marchers walking in clear view past a patrol of police officers brandishing an automatic weapon and was not stop at all.
The Black Lives Matter Movement has been a voice for people of color, it has been a peaceful protest movement by people of all races, ethnic backgrounds often speaking out against the killing of Black kids by white men and police officers who have no remorse about shooting and killing a Black teenager in Florida, because the teenager disrespected him by not lowering his music. Blacks have been on the receiving end of excessive force throughout the nation’s history. Black Lives Matter must become more than a protest in the streets of America and a national movement, it must become an unstoppable force that stirs the human heart and soul of the nation to overcome past practices and shameful behavior toward people of color. It is very difficult to truly love a country or a person(s) that hate and despises you.
The Black Lives Movement for change appears to be reaching the conscious and soul of the nation. The Black Lives Movement must continue to be the non-violent movement for change. The movement is worthy, believable, and sustainable. We cannot just utter the words Black Lives matter, the nation must live, internalize and act affirmatively on these words. These words must become indelibly etched in the minds and hearts of every American citizen. It is unlike any movement we have seen before; it is a movement that has “staying power”. According to the New York Times, it just may be Americas largest movement in US history.
Dr. Herbert Simmons, Jr. is an associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Grambling State University, former President, Grambling State University Faculty Senate and former Chair, Department of Consumer Education and Resource Management, Howard University, Washington, D.C.