Black Lives Don't Matter
It was July 13, 2013 when George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing young teen, Trayvon Martin. That’s when we first heard the words: Black Lives Matter.
*insert eye roll*
What a controversial statement, right? An entire race of people simply asking to matter and the country is up in arms! Why wasn't the country up in arms over the death of an innocent human being?
Instead, the focus was on the word “Black.” How do I know this? Because their rebuttal was: All Lives Matter. The mere fact that we had the audacity to scream, “Black Lives Matter” meant we were making everything about us and CLEARLY insinuating that no one else’s life matters. If we had put the word “too” at the end, would that have made things better? Would it have made people more comfortable? People weren’t comfortable with the idea of black lives mattering, at least not any more than anyone else’s. But the fact is we know they don’t.
They didn’t during the slave trade.
They didn’t during the Jim Crow era.
They didn’t during redlining.
They didn’t during police brutality.
And they don’t now.
Last week, the country waited with bated breath to find out whether Amber Guyger, a former Dallas law enforcement officer would be convicted of murdering accountant, worship leader and friend to everyone, Botham Jean. To our surprise, she was convicted of murder in the first degree. And for once we thought, 'Maybe they're taking this seriously.' But then came the sentence: 10 years.
We should happy about that, right? We should be happy that she got convicted and sentenced for the crime she committed. The answer, sadly, is no. Consider if the situation were reversed--an off-duty law enforcement officer, who happens to be a black man, knocks on the door of a white woman's apartment and shoots her dead. Would the sentence have been only 10 years? History and trends within the criminal justice system of unfair and inconsistent sentencing have given us strong reason to doubt.
A friend of mine brought up a point: had Botham Jean not been a near perfect black man, there’s no way Amber would have been convicted at all. Her tearful testimony would've still convinced the jury that she truly made a terrible mistake and she would've been able to go about living her life with no legal repercussions. And that comment struck me because I'm not sure if it's far fetched at all. So often in these situations we see the victims get vilified, but in this case, it was impossible to do so.
So it makes you wonder, are the only black people who are entitled to justice ones that white people don’t view as a threat? Do we in our lives have to continuously fight to make sure white people feel comfortable in regards to how we dress, how we talk, how we act so that if we are ever murdered, nothing negative could be said about us? Is it mandatory that we as a people acclimate to standards they have set in order to simply survive in this world?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then just like that we are reminded that black lives don’t really matter. Or perhaps we need to specify that All black lives matter.