Or maybe it’s more like “We’re here. We have value. Don’t tread on us.”
So many people like to pat themselves on the back and say, “Martin Luther King fought hard and accomplished so much, so now black people are equal.”
If white people are afraid the police are going to catch them it’s because they’ve done something. I follow every single rule of the road, and anytime a cop car is anywhere around me I’m freaked out that he/she will pull me over. Why is that?
I’m a black man.
Now, before I get into what that means, I’ll just say it again. I’m a black man. It’s 2020 in America, and I am really not sure what Martin Luther King actually accomplished because I don’t see it right now. It’s been a long time since the peaceful march on Washington (oh, wait, that was this past week) and for some reason there needed to be another peaceful march on Washington. And many other places.
We look to martyrs like Martin and Malcolm and we say how much they did for the black community, but the black community is still struggling, not just with the poverty issue, but with perception. White folks will still look at me and move to the other side of the road. The “ghetto” is synonymous with black people, and talking “ghetto” is cool now in the white world, but when I speak like an educated man I’m seen as different.
I’m a black man. That doesn’t mean I’m uneducated, or less than. I’m equal to, and that’s what Black Lives Matter is all about. We are equal to, not less than, not more than, simply equal to. From slavery, to the 3/5ths compromise, to being denied the vote many places, to Jim Crow, and a slew of other slights, we have not been seen as equal for far too long. It’s time.
So people ask why now? Why George Floyd? Well, it’s not just George Floyd. He was just the latest (I’m sure while I’ve been writing this there have been more incidents). For far too long black people have sat back and said words will accomplish what rioting and peaceful marches did not, and here we are again, with the rioting and peaceful marches. But what change is going to come? Will we go back to being complacent if more affirmative action is put in place?
Is there a point where it will ever be enough?
Many people point to the fact that America has had a black president as some sign of change, but just that they say, “But Barack was black” means they still think in these diametrically opposed categorizations. We need to remember that equal doesn’t mean one token here and there. It means representation is the same, that respect is the same, that one plus one equals two, not one and three-fifths.
So, yes, black lives matter. We’re here. We have value. Don’t tread on us. It’s not enough to sit back and stay silent, worried you’ll say the wrong thing. If you support equality, then you need to speak up, to do something that shows this. Sitting in glass houses will get you nowhere once the stones are thrown.