#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression. We have put our sweat equity and love for Black people into creating a political project–taking the hashtag off of social media and into the streets. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation. (source)
I appreciate the #BlackLivesMatter movement but I don’t like that it exists. In fact, I hate it. The idea that the lives of black people should be honored and protected should be self-evident in this society. It should be a given. The idea that the same care and concern for the well-being of white people should be extended to people with brown skin should be an inherent truth. But evidence suggests otherwise. That evidence looks like a disproportionate number of black people being arrested, pulled over, searched, and even shot by people officers.
This injustice birthed the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Because it seems to some like they don’t . . . or that the lives and rights of black people don’t hold equal weight.
Equality. That’s what the hashtag is about.
It is not about elevating black lives above the lives of others. Anyone who thinks that is missing the point entirely. #BlackLivesMatter is about asserting that the lives of black people matter, too. It’s about asking people to care about black lives AS MUCH AS they care about the lives of white people. It’s a call to justice in the face of injustice.
And yet, some people seem to bristle at the idea of highlighting an injustice. The impulse to minimize racism and to make sure one race is not paid undue attention over their own has resulted in a curious co-opting of this movement.
A meme so pervasive that renowned pastor Rick Warren even parroted it in a recent facebook update, which was even further problematic when he posited racism as simply a sin issue. It is a sin, to be sure, but it is also a skin issue. This photo presents racism as an equal issue and denies the fact that our country is plagued by history, systems, and biases towards black people.
At face value, it’s not a bad statement. Of course all lives matter. But the fact that it is both a reaction and a co-opt of an actual justice movement moves it from a nice sentiment to a derail in a conversation about the very real issues of racial injustice in this country. As Austin Channing Brown puts it:
Its incredibly reductive. To say that racism is a “sin issue”, write all lives matter to God and call it a day grossly oversimplifies and ignores the issues #blacklivesmatter has been trying to raise. Its been said over and over and over again. #blacklivesmatter is not a statement that others lives dont matter. Its a response to the specific ways racism impact black lives. The truth that racism is a “sin problem” doesn’t make it any easier to solve. for Christians, that is why its so urgent that we root out white supremacy and resulting racism. Sin = death and we are literally watching that death unfold for black lives.