By using social spaces to assert that Black Lives Matter, I have noticed a certain pattern in responses. But let’s be clear, #BLM merely means that we need to pay attention to Black lives because our lives have never been valued in the U.S. That is, outside of seeing us as property, free labor, cheap labor, experiments, and vehicles for capitalism via slavery, discriminatory housing policies, HeLa cells/the Tuskegee Syphilis study and the prison industrial complex.
Let’s not forget that we, as a people, have never been silent about our mistreatment. But as a result of recent events, we now vehemently assert that our lives matter. We do not claim that they matter more than anyone else’s, but merely that they matter. But by speaking out about our precious Black lives, people get…offended, upset, and hostile. People get downright nasty. We assert our lives and many fellow North Americans assert their hate. And I choose the word malicious specifically, because the hate we receive has no grounding. The hate we receive targets us simply because we are Black. Whereas most Black people I know only talk about white people as a response to said hate, many white people are mad that we are asserting our right to live. The anger we receive is not because we personally did anything to white people. The anger we receive is not because we are actively harming people. The forms of anger we receive, the names we receive, the death threats we receive result from the assertion that our lives matter.
You’ll understand my confusion when I, as a pro-Black Black man, merely assert my right to life and receive hateful responses. And for the record, pro-Black and anti-white are two very different things. My pro-Blackness is not an attack on your whiteness. I only problematize white people in response to something heinous done against my people by white people, or in the spirit of maintaining white supremacy. Don’t forget that there is a large contingency of white people who are maliciously hateful, spiteful, and violent towards Black people.
Even so, my frustration and pain stems not from a general dislike of white people, but utter hate for white supremacy and the everyday agents who uphold it, often without realizing it. So when we talk about dismantling white supremacy through non-violent means like police reform, why do we receive physical, verbal, and symbolic violent threats? I already know the answer. But I ask that you consider all the wrongs done against Black people in this country [after all the wrong done against Native people] and how we, as Black people, still take the high road more times than not. I ask that you consider who committed those wrongs, the system that encouraged it, and how that system still exists. I ask that you don’t just look at and for everyday acts of racism, but at the ways in which the system we live in runs on racism.