American Culture

#blacklivesmatter versus #alllivesmatter

White man ISO white people to explain something to me

I have yet to take a strong stand on this whole #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #enoughwiththehashtagsmatter issue, and I’m fairly certain it’s a privilege thing that I, as a cisgendered white hetero man in farm country, have this luxury. I can’t help that.

I’m familiar with the early arguments for BLM, but I’ve been too comfortable with my earliest impressions and too busy to keep up, so I’m not sure where I stand on the most recent status of BLM. I also get why some folks with good hearts and intentions think All Lives Matter. I’ve read counter-arguments to their position, and I largely agree.

As a non-evil person, I obviously sympathize with those who die unjust violent deaths. The thing is, I haven’t looked at the numbers for myself to determine to my own satisfaction what degree of certainty to feel in regard to just how big and critical an issue race-driven use of force by police is. I know what the narrative I’m supposed to repeat is. I just haven’t fact-checked it, or teased out the ramifications for myself. And it’s so emotionally loaded that it’s exactly the kind of issue I think everyone, especially those most directly concerned, would do well to dig into more deeply before laying it all on the line. Life and death issues require the most consideration in the absence of imminent harm. You’re welcome for the ____splanation.

So, thought experiment time. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that of the total number of civilians killed by police, the majority of them are actually not POC, and that the perception that POC are killed by police in disproportionately high numbers is a media creation, to wit, more white people than black people are killed by police.

Question: If that’s that case, why are white people, as a whole, okay with unelected government officials killing them with impunity, to the point where we don’t hear about it constantly in the news? Are we supposed to be okay with unelected government employees spontaneously revoking our human rights, our inalienable rights, our rights as US citizens, to due process, representation in court, a trial before a jury of peers, and sentencing in accordance with law and summarily executing us?

4 replies »

  1. It’s about half white/half non-white Frank. Disregarding Hispanic/Asian/other, 238 whites and 123 blacks have been killed by police so far in 2016. Definitely a statistical disparity considering Blacks only make up 13% of the population but certainly not as huge as the breathless media would lead us to believe.

    I’m not OK with police executing anyone and I know it happens sometimes. Most of the time though it’s drugged up/drunk/mental defectives fighting them and in those cases I believe it is truly justifiable homicide.

    We as a society have to decide if we like law and order as in “Broken Windows” and “Stop and Frisk” style policing or if we’re OK with living in a little wilder and woollier society where cops blow off petty stuff. I’d be fine with the latter but a lot wouldn’t be.

  2. “I also get why some folks with good hearts and intentions think All Lives Matter. I’ve read counter-arguments to their position, and I largely agree.”

    I hope I can help convince you that BLM is a legitimate response to disproportionate police brutality to Black and other minority peoples. Better yet, I’ll show you the response a law professor gave to a student that penned an anonymous letter of complaint to him for wearing a t-shirt that had Black Lives Matter written on it.

    Here’s the link:

    Here are some of his arguments that I cut-and-pasted:

    [[[Premise: There is an invisible “only” in front of the words “Black Lives Matter.”

    Critique: There is a difference between focus and exclusion. If something matters, this does not imply that nothing else does. If l say “Law Students Matter” it does not imply that my colleagues, friends, and family do not.

    There are some implicit words that precede “Black Lives Matter,” and they go something like this:

    Because of the brutalizing and killing of black people at the hands of the police and the indifference of society in general and the criminal justice system in particular. It is important that we say that…

    This is, of course, far too long to fit on a shirt. Black Lives Matter is about focus, not exclusion. As a general matter, seeing the world and the people in it in mutually exclusive, either/or terms impedes your own thought processes.]]]

    The reason that you are giving more weight to the All Lives Matter countermovement is because you don’t believe that there is a disordinate amount police violence toward Black communities.

    Yes. Yes, there is. Black men were 3.5 times more likely to be killed by cops than white men. [ ] If there were 3.5 times the number of stop-and-frisks in your neighborhood than in other neighborhoods in your town, you and your neighbors would become upset and seek to do something about it.

    Finally, it’s hard to grasp this issue when you are only talking in hypotheticals and statistics. Frontline just aired an excellent piece called “Policing the Police”. I’d suggest you start at 6:30 so you can see what a night on the town looks like from the cop’s perspective.

  3. Djerrid, thank you for your thoughtful response. As part of my tongue-in-cheek approach to the subject, I intentionally left “and I agree” ambiguous. I agree with the counter-arguments, such as you have shared. My approach was part of the buildup to the gotcha closing, since it seems that there is some overlap between groups likely to counter BLM with ALM and groups that ordinarily seem to have a problem with government overreach, just not when it comes to killing black people. At least, that’s the way it seems from where I sit.

    Interestingly, so far, neither here, nor in my social media circles, has any of that overlapping group stepped forward to suggest they ARE okay with police summarily cancelling their rights. If I can cause even a little cognitive dissonance such that someone ordinarily antagonistic to BLM for “reasons” cools down long enough to see it as a matter of rights they personally hold dear, I’ll have accomplished what little I can.