Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Friday, 11 March 2016

Black Lives Matter Is Not Racist

SUMMARY: In this write up, we construct the ways the statement "black lives matter" has been applied in the public domain and how it is a byline as people explore opportunities of mobility.



I was walking down this street, in a city where I had gone to check on a friend who was said to be either missing or hospitalized. My bus was held like many other vehicles in a slow traffic. Ahead of us was a group of people in a parade, they were silent, they were orderly but were waving placards on which were the words: "Black Lives Matter." Earlier on, I had seen these three words on various wall faces. I wondered what to make of this. I also wondered about other events and experiences that prompted such galvanizing statements. History provides us with a long list of such events. Some of which brought wars, genocides, slavery, trafficking and forms of colonization that used codes and laws whose making the colonized never participated in and which codes and laws allowed repatriation of colony resources without contracts of pay back. I come from a culture in Africa that teaches "Obuntu" as a call for people to contribute to their society, engage in practices that promote tolerance and rather than take the path of war, one is encouraged to seek paths that strengthen community togetherness. Obuntu is "seeing dignity in everyone." Else where on the same continent there is a similar philosophy called: "Ubuntu." Note that the first has letter 'o' and the second starts with letter 'U.' Ubuntu is "humanity towards others." black lives matter is “to love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves as a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for others,” (Alicia Garza).





"Black Lives Matter" are title cased words expressed in quotes.  It is also not uncommon to find those  same words without quotes. These three words are a declaration, statement of belief, a commitment, a rallying call for redress and a message of self determination and an item on the social agenda of US and the entire world.

As a declaration, they have the power to draw attention as well as cast spells of revolutions much as the words "We The People..." or the Seneca Declaration do. Unlike The Declaration of Independence (1776) and The Seneca Falls Declaration Of Sentiments (1848), "Black Lives Matter" may not be followed by the classic prose and structure but it is a sentiment that adds to those declarations.  Black Lives Matter is not racist. It is indeed a declaration whose Philadelphia or Seneca is the heart that questions abuses and wrongs. 


Black Lives Matter is not racist.
 It is indeed a declaration whose Philadelphia or Seneca is the heart that questions abuses and wrongs.

"Orange is the new black" made a box office record sale, it drew masses. Black lives matter draws our attention to what has been taken for granted all along. When an average person hits the streets of any city in America, how likely is it that they will pursue life, enjoy liberty and happiness without interference or being reminded of a criminality of their presence whether real or perceived? Black lives matter calls on all to be responsible to each other. Black lives matter is a yield sign on the thoroughfare called society. The black person or any other person should be aware of other users. It is a practical statement much like the one from the Abrahamic culture that goes: "Do Unto Others What You Want Done Unto You."  Black lives matter is a statement showing that neighborhood tranquility is possible. If the word racist should be replaced by 'voicist' or racism by 'voicism' this is the right time to do it. Black lives matter has ushered in a new term called voicism. Black lives matter is not racist but voicist. A John The Baptist crying out to you and me.

"The phrase “black lives matter” was born in July of 2013, in a Facebook post by Alicia Garza, called “a love letter to black people.” The post was intended as an affirmation for a community distraught over George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Florida. Garza, is the special-projects director in the Oakland office of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which represents twenty thousand caregivers and housekeepers, and lobbies for labor legislation on their behalf," (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/03/14/where-is-black-lives-matter-headed).


Alicia Garza, a labor organizer in Oakland. Source: New York Times. 


Black lives matter is a commitment to rule of law and action that addresses racial and gender inequalities. It commits all of us to the civic responsibility towards one another; commonly used utilities; and a fair distribution of social services; and their ensured fair usage and delivery. It calls for conscientiousness and less of destructive tendencies whether we are being monitored or not. Black lives matter commits all of us to respect one another and property. Black lives matter, puts into perspective a caucasian saying: "What is good for the goose, is good for the gander."

Black lives matter is both a revelation and a rallying call for redress such as in the relations between races. It calls for all of us to embrace diversity and not condone abuses. Whether at intra-racial or inter-racial levels. Black lives matter is an operational statement putting Obuntu or Ubuntu into practice. It is another way of saying: "We are in this together." It again calls for redress in the social services sectors from one end of education, employment, through health to the other end of retirement. Black lives matter is a rallying call for redress in the relations between races and law enforcement interactions: consider processes such as being approached, forced to move, cited, searched, property taken, incarceration, probation and parole. Who have the benefit of due diligence and who feel that enforcement is brutal when it comes to them? How can our law enforcement officers continue their worthy services, be seen to be professional, be fair in applying the enforcement, ensure accountability, be seen to be humans and be motivated to keep law and order ? 

Black lives matter is a message of self determination. It rallies all of us to take turns at being responsible citizens and in the process, our expectations should not be abused. Black lives matter is a corrective procedure that brings into focus social issues that our eyes, and therefore our hands (institutions), may have missed as we rush through this Babylon of life. It calls for accommodation or handling issues with an attention to detail and a promise to complete tasks at hand. It enables us to appreciate the diversity of our lives made up of all these ingredients: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black, indigo, violet and in-betweens. It does not call for special treatment but rather an awareness that society has diverse needs. Black lives matter calls on all of us to correct the structural mechanisms through which any group of people is assumed to deserve relegation. Black lives matter is the equivalent of a passage in Matthew 5:23-26: 23 Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your offering there at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother or sister, and then come and present your offering. 25 Come to terms quickly [at the earliest opportunity] with your opponent at law while you are with him or her on the way [to court], so that your opponent does not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you are thrown into prison. 26 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid the last cent."


Lastly…….black lives matter is a message that goes back into the past. It talks to a chief or king or queen in pre-colonial Africa to atone for the blacks he or she allowed to be stolen from a chiefdom or kingdom only to be sold into slavery; it encourages owning this history and ensuring it does not happen ever; it calls for all sides who were involved to stop pretending they were doing it in the name of a Divinity or circumstances; it calls for not explaining away wrongs like poverty; it asks others not to be dismissive;  it calls for end to domestic violence; it stays a raised arm about to batter another person; it encourages children-parent guidance and dialogue; it asks for children to respect their parents; it tells a caregiver not to abuse a senior; it calls for equity; it gives strength to an executive to talk to his employees to embrace black or white or orange, or any shade of the skin; it inventories the wrongs and rights of colonization; it reconciles itself to the million spotlights of class, race, gender and sexuality as social issues, it cautions pejorative designation for blacks, it questions the trade in human beings in the past and presently; it calls for broad plans to empower all communities economically; it calls for political correctness in resource use; it calls for ensuring dignity of females and marginalized communities; it calls for end to conflicts and wars; it brings ethics in medical or biological experiments; it calls for conservation of the environment; it calls for considering the causes of climatic change and necessary redress; it calls for promotion of a science that regenerates soils; it calls for same due diligence to be applied to all who want to travel across borders. Martin Luther King said it resonantly: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Let us go back to the drawing board. Black lives matter and is an item on the social agenda of US and the entire world.



Facebook CEO brainstorming ground rules with employees on the use of Menlo Park space. Source theverge.com

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