On why Black Lives Matter and what many do not understand

As a background, many have been seen or participated in discussions on black lives matter vs blue lives matter versus all lives matter. Through many discussions, the same points get brought up, but most fall on deaf ears on all sides. 

I hope in this post to address a specific friend of mine and his comment below.  I believe that it will help explain what so many just don't understand about the message of the "black lives matters" movement. 

"Daniel Koons do you have a problem with the people who sacrifice every day to protect you and your family? I understand that African Americans in general have a harder life, but I shared another post that outlines how it's mostly self inflicted. African Americans kill thousands more African Americans than cops do every year. But no one is trying to deal with that issue, because everyone is believing what the media is feeding them."

I hear you. Let me try to explain as best as I can why so many of the negative responses to black lives matter miss the mark. I will try to walk through the various aspects that you have brought up and others that are related. I know this is long, but please take the time and read.

Let's start with the Black Lives Matter movement and the idea behind it. Many want to dismiss it because there are some activists who have gotten violent or chosen less-than-helpful ways to communicate their message. Let's talk about Christianity. Should you and I reject the message of Christianity, because Hitler was a Christian? Because the Crusades were done ‘in Jesus’ name’? Because many used the Bible to justify slavery? Because Westboro Baptist believes they have all the answers? Should we reject the Gospel? Or, does the message surpass all the evils done by the church? If we apply your logic to your faith, you need to walk away from following Jesus immediately, if you don't want to be a hypocrite.

Obviously, you and I both believe the Gospel is much bigger than idiots who abuse others in Jesus’ name. Likewise, the message of Black Lives Matter is bigger than those who have wrongly lived out the message they believe in.

Next, black on black crime. This is an unhelpful distraction. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of who you are referring to. Imagine what it would be like and what's going on in our world (as black men). Why are we frustrated? Angry? Scared? Why would we join a gang? Commit crimes? Distrust cops and white people? Feel nervous walking into a store? What do you think about when you drive down the street? Why would we ever kill other black men?

I know it's hard, but try more. If you are tempted to say, "I would never," try harder.  Think about the life lived by these people who most would just label as criminals. Articulate their feelings and thoughts and fears. Walk in those shoes.

What do you do when if feels like the whole world is against you? What do you do if your family doesn't make a enough money to feed your family? What does it feel like to have a huge disadvantage, yet, no one cares? What do you think about the government or police that are supposed to be for you, but seem so against you? What do you feel if you walk into a store and you are followed, just because you are black? (I've been told to do this many times as an employee. These things aren't made up. Have you ever been followed around because you are white? How do you react when enemies close in? Do you fight or flight? What if flight isn't an option? What if you can’t just make more money and move to the nice part of town? What if you feel like nothing matters? Why not fight, steal, etc. to make something happen with your own two hands, since you will do what you need to, to survive?

Sure we can judge what is right and wrong. But the truth is we just don't get it. We can't. We have never lived in those shoes. We’ve never felt that way nor experienced any of those things. But with the tiniest glimpse, we need to remember that these "criminals" have lives, families and passions. They are people just like us, and like us, we can’t and shouldn’t be defined by our mistakes. While we have the privilege of doing something about our future, not everyone is so lucky.

We do have huge and systemic problems in America that have led to these things.  Obviously, it doesn't justify them, but crime happens for a reason. There are so many aspects that are stacked against the black community. How should we work to fix them? What can the black community do? What can we do together?

Well, starting with declaring that black lives matters is a start. If black lives matter, we would change our hearts and help wake up the ignorant. If black lives matter we will look into the issues that cause crime. Hatred. Anger. Prejudice. Division. Fear. Black lives matter is a reminder to all that we should stop killing each other no matter who we are or who we look like.

To use a related example. At least one of my kids has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It's far less talked about and researched compared to other conditions such as Cancer or Down Syndrome. If I rally to advocate to study FAS more, am I ignoring those conditions that are much more publicized or studied? If I say FAS lives matter, am I saying cancer lives or down lives don't? Not at all. There is no "only" before these phrases. Rather than hearing BLM and being offended, we should pause to ask why people say this. When we educate ourselves, we understand the vast issues and topics that it address, and the unfortunate reality is that in many and various ways black lives just do not matter as much as white lives in this country.  Advocacy for one does not downplay or dismiss the other, just like the Trevor Noah video you shared.

This brings up white conservative America's new favorite proclamation, “all lives matter.” We must realize the lunacy and hypocrisy of this phrase. While most would strongly push for the pro-life movement, they have no problem with our government executing criminals or the military killing its enemies. They don't seem to care about lives outside the womb as much as those inside of it.  If someone years ago made a sign said “the lives of the unborn matter” would it be fair for someone to distract and say “all lives matter”? For whoever wants to proclaim “all lives matter” can show it by supporting the idea that black lives do matter as well, in a world that devalues black lives everyday. So let’s stop being deceived. The fact is, no one is truly pro-life when you vote Republican and equally support killing enemies. And one actually thinks “all lives matter” when we ignore the atrocities done to the Palestinians or Mexicans or the people dying from a lack of clean water or food.

To your first question, do I have issues with cops? No, not at all. But, I have never been pulled over because I was white. I was never questioned because I look suspicious. I am a white dude that never thinks about cops unless I am speeding when I pass one. I respect those who serve. I thank police and military when I meet them and tell them thank you for serving this country. That being said, in major white circles people mourn the loss of officers (which should be done) but there is no thought to mourn black lives lost. In the white community, if a black man is shot, guilt is automatically presumed. There is no innocent until proven guilty. There was no judge and jury. There was one scared cop who was the judge, jury, and executioner. Police have a harder job right now, but let's be honest to notice they do have privilege and power that the black community as a whole doesn't.

If even someone can label someone a "thug" or "criminal" or whatever, does that make death okay? Can we still not mourn? Can't we wish someone was alive? Can't we be pro-life? Or is it only the unborn that have intrinsic worth? Watch the Sandra Bland video again. Let's believe the official report and that she killed herself. Read her life's story online. After reading it, I watch the dashcam arrest video and I cried. It doesn't matter what crap she went through. The fact is if she would not have been arrested she would be alive. Can't we grieve life regardless if they had a rough life and made bad choices? Realize that we are called to imitate Jesus, who not only grieve for those who have died, even if they are sinners, but he died for them while they were still enemies.

You bring up how many black deaths are self-induced. I have brought up the systemic problems and odds stacked against them already. But let's go deeper. Even if the whole world agrees that most deaths are self-induced, does that downplay the lives lost? Does that end the horror of one innocent man wrongfully killed? Does that make executions done outside the legal system less important? Just because there are injustices that happen, that doesn't make all cops bad or evil, but some are. Ignoring the Crusades or Westboro or Hitler because most Christians are nice, doesn't solve the issues with those people(s).

You say no one is dealing with "black on black crime." Who says? I have heard many bring up this and try to work on solving this. We aren't in the black community and we are both ignorant of what exactly is being done to help reduce this. How can we help? How can we use our privilege to tear down the judgment and fear and problems the black community faces? If black lives matter, then black lives matter, which means they shouldn't be killing each other and neither should we.

Lastly, you bring up the media. Few would deny that the media is a machine. It feeds whatever people want. We care about when France is attacked but ignore the other attacks. We care about gorillas and lions but ignore American-funded terrorism. We are a dumb people as a whole. Personally, I don't care about media. Personally, I don't ask the media for how should I feel and think. Do remember that media on FB is run by people. People are choosing what to get upset about. Ignorance abounds but that doesn't downplay the issues. As Christians, we are called not to be tossed here and there by every wind and wave, but instead continue to grow and mature into Jesus' example. These means we fight for the broken and hurting and oppressed and call out the crap of those who are breaking, hurting, and oppressed. If you take following Jesus seriously you will get beat up from both sides of most issues. Because while many non-Christians normally don't get it, neither does the church. We need to wake up and stand between the oppressor and the oppressed, the abuser and the hurting, and the violent and the broken. I don't care what either side looks like or what they do for a profession. We have a ministry of reconciliation and it's not distracting from honest issues this country is facing, regardless if you and I experience it.
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