If #AllLivesMatter then why is it so very important to justify us over them?

I listen to people say, “There’s this Black woman….” or distinguish John Smith as “the Black man” and I want to ask, “What’s Black got to do with anything?”

Or when people describe the scene of a story by saying, “…and there were 3 or 4 Black people in there.” I want to ask why is their being Black relevant to this story?

In an interview with NPR (here), Brooklyn Borough’s president and former policeman Eric Adams said that the blood of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos “is on the hands of those who are allowing the over-proliferation of illegal guns in our country.” He’s taken the easy out. Regardless of your stance on gun control, a weapon only empowers the reason within us. We know what this reason apparently was for the murderer of Liu and Ramos: mental illness. But what is that reason within the many police officers who’ve killed so many more unarmed Black men?

I have to ask the same question as Julia Craven in her post “Please Stop Telling Me That All Lives Matter.” If #AllLivesMatter, when current events demonstrate that a life in one shade of skin is more likely to be killed in cold blood, why must we assert #BlackLivesMatter no more than any other color of skin? Why do we feel this need to make sure that White people have not somehow lost value through this social trend that recognizes something wrong in US law enforcement?

What is that reason? What is that reason we now say #AllLivesMatter? Is it because we are taking this opportunity to expand relevance to Native people (like James T Williams) who are also targeted by police officers? Or are we including other injustices like sexual assault by police officers (like Daniel Holtzclaw)? Or when confronted by the evidence of police brutality against Black people are we actually really taking this opportunity to say, “Policemen are people too?”

Or are we afraid that if we acknowledge the injustices against Black people that we are somehow consenting to them taking our own justice away? As though there is a finite amount of justice to be given and we must now protect what is ours. Or more to the point, as though the justice we enjoy depends upon the lack of justice afforded others. Or must what we interpret as justice for ourselves actually come at others’ expense?

The point is not that Black is more important than White. The point is that Black is demonstrably not as important as White.

In John Grischam’s A Time to Kill–book or movie–when Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) asks the jury to imagine the violent rape of that little girl, he concludes, “and now imagine that she was White” (YouTube). Ultimately, the color of the victim’s skin shouldn’t matter. The reason why it matters is because what happened was likely to happen because the girl was Black. The same outcome, statistically, would not have likely happened to a White girl.

Of course all lives matter. So what’s Black got to do with it?

Black lives apparently matter less to the rest of us in our society. And that’s the reason we feel the need to justify ourselves.

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