Last week saw three separate tragedies that couldn’t have been more connected.
On July 5, Alton Sterling died of multiple gunshot wounds at the hands of two Baton Rouge officers who responded to a call, according to Vox. The anonymous tip said a man in a red shirt pointed a gun at someone. Sterling, who was selling CDs outside the store, did not match the description.
In one video shot by a bystander, the two officers yelled at Sterling to get on the ground and pinned him on the ground. One of the officers yelled “He’s got a gun!” while the other shot Sterling in the chest. All the while, Sterling remained defenseless and immobile.
A day after this tragedy, a woman named Diamond Reynolds from Falcon Heights, Minessotta took to Facebook through a live broadcast to show the world her boyfriend, Philando Castile, slumped and bloody body after he was shot by a police office during a traffic stop, according to another report by Vox.
Within 72 hours of that tragedy, 12 police officers were shot during a protest in Dallas, Texas, with 5 dead.
“It was the deadliest day for law enforcement in the US since 9/11,”said The Guardian.
These three distant events are linked by two things: “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter”.
Sterling and Castile’s respective deaths brought back the discourse on Black Lives Matter after–once again–the lives of innocent black men were cut short in the hands of people who’ve sworn to serve and protect.
The deaths of the Dallas officers have sparked grief as well, even leading to the rise of “Blue Lives Matter”.
And there in lies a problem. The deaths of these officers–tragic as they were–should not serve as a silencer to the ongoing discourse on #BlackLivesMatter.
To start marching down the streets chanting “Blue Lives Matter” or to phrase a headline on the Dallas tragedy with “Civil War” is to not only normalize the deaths of black people at the hands of police officers, but they also devalue the discourse on racism and how it is part of systemic problems within the police force.
“Blue Lives Matter” does not need to be said because being a police officer has not been a source of prejudice among those in the occupation. As a matter of fact, they are in a position of power and authority.
“To say Blue Lives Matter is to falsely assert that the cops’ lives are undervalued and systematically discarded,” writes Natasha Lennard on a July 8 commentary for Rolling Stone. “They are not — no life should be — and the shootings in Dallas do not change that fact.”
Lennard also points out in the commentary that to put Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter on equal footing is to illogically believe that a uniform and skin color–and the realities and inequalities lived by those who wear them–are comparable. They are not.
One is indicative of power and authority while the other has been regarded by history as the lesser version of man, equivalent to crime and a thousand other stereotypes culture and history are too lax to eradicate.
“Blue Lives Matter” is just another way of saying “All Lives Matter” because, as the Lennard commentary concludes, “We don’t need a Blue Lives Matter movement to assert that cops’ lives matter — that fact is as established in this country as white supremacy.”
“All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” are not helpful in addressing the issues “Black Lives Matter” was born out of. While the intentions of “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” are valid–that lives do matter, regardless of whose it is–their usage are allowing ignorance of the purpose on why a movement for minorities’ rights rose in the first place.
We need to remember that “Black Lives Matter” comes with an important context: it is a cry to make a difference and cry for a revolution from the status quo of white supremacy in Great America.
“Black Lives Matter” is not anti-white or anti-police. So do not silence those cries with “Blue Lives Matter”. The voice of “Black Lives Matter” are already struggling enough as it is.