Black Lives Do Not Matter
A Blog Series: How to Make a Black Life Matter
By Arianna Carr
An historical movement that has grabbed the world’s attention is #blacklivesmatter. Some believe it is nothing more than just a hashtag while others believe it is going to be a catalyst for significant change in U.S. race relations. Regardless of any of these opinions, this phrase or “hashtag” has pervaded the minds of all Americans. In this blog series, we will break down this phrase/hashtag, analyze the historic worth of a black life before it ever became a hashtag, and examine how this hashtag could actually become reality through action and practical solutions.
The next statement I will make is going to be shocking, but bear with me: Black lives do not matter to any race. Yes, I am saying that there are whites, blacks, and races in between who share this devastating mindset. Let me clarify, not all people within these groups feel this way, but every racial community is beset with these feelings.
Black Lives Do Not Matter to White People
Now of course the most obvious suspect, for the #blackLivesDONOTmatter crew, is white people. In this country, they have an injurious legacy of racism, white supremacy, prejudice, and discrimination because of the actions of their ancestors. Unfortunately, this injurious legacy has transcended time. I truly believe that few white people hate black people, but I do believe that because of their history and superiority complex in this nation, it is hard for them to respect black people. Slave masters typically did not hate their slaves (some even hypocritically claimed to “love” their slaves as they created families with them), but they certainly had no respect for a slave - their slave. White field hands had a great disdain for black slaves. They displayed far more tender compassion for their animals than was ever shown for a black slave. White store owners, during the post slavery era, disrespected blacks as they made them enter through the back doors of their establishments. Today, people like to start the narrative of black people in the 21st century. They see high poverty and crime rates and low literacy rates, neglecting to understand how and why those came to be. The majority of white people have this mentality, so it is hard for them to show respect for black people and their struggle.
Black Lives Do Not Matter to Black People
The next group of people who do not see the worth in black lives are black people. This may seem twisted at first, but let me explain. I am not going to bombard you with black on black crime rhetoric to characterize this problem, but it is worth mentioning. Black people who actively murder other black people because of affiliation with gangs or drugs have no right to scream and chant to their oppressor “black lives matter.” How can someone oppressed have the audacity to oppress? Too many young black men are swayed by adult black men to deal drugs and to not strive for success and self-betterment. Forcing black adolescents and teens into a mentality of “kill or be killed” is abominable and shows a lack of regard for black lives.
Now, on to the more inconspicuous reasons as to why black lives don’t matter to black people. Black people have pushed a certain image of beauty for way too long. It is the following: lighter skin, soft curly hair (“good hair”), and Eurocentric facial and eye features. Now of course, we all know how these standards came about, but the fact that they still exist is shameful. The fact that we have more than fully embraced and enacted this standard is shameful. The true black on black crime is making our young black children, specifically girls, feel like the body that they were born with is not good enough. Words like, “you’re getting too dark” or “your hair is so nappy and hard to work with, so let’s get a relaxer” is damaging for a child. Before “melanin” became such a trend many of my darker skinned friends struggled with seeing their own beauty and dreamt of having a child with a white man to have a “prettier” baby. To feel worthless because of how your own family, friends, and community treats you is something despicable. The fact that skin bleaching and lightening creams exist reveals to our black boys and girls that they would be more beautiful, more valuable if they were not so “black.” A lot of our self-worth is invested in our self-esteem, and if we keep chipping at that in our black boys and girls, you are going to find more self-hate within the black community and less value for black lives.
My final reason for blacks not valuing the lives of black people is this: No sincere expectation for excellence. The best way I can explain this is through a personal anecdote. I was visiting with my uncle in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His step-daughter was at the house and conversation was great. However, things took a turn for the worse once her 6-year-old son entered the room. As soon as she came in, she exclaimed “Oh that boy! He is so dumb. That boy don’t do any of his homework. So dumb.” I was at a loss for words, she said this right in the presence of her own child. In that very moment, with just a few sentences, I saw a black mom demean her black child. I saw the light in his eyes become very dim. It was a horrendous scene. I suddenly realized black children often times do not live up to their own potential because they are not told they can. If excelling in this world is something that the media and society say you cannot achieve, then why should you even try ESPECIALLY when your own mother and family do not believe in you. The black community can do a better job at pushing our children to be more than entertainers, athletes, or blue collar workers. We have to start believing in the value and worth of black people. We can attain a high school diploma. We can get our GED. We can go to trade school. We can go to college. We can graduate with our bachelor’s degree, our master’s degree, and any other degree we wish to attain. We can be the best, our best. But none of that will happen if we never believe that it can.
Black Lives Do Not Matter to Other Minorities
Other minorities are the last group who do not see the value in black lives. Growing up in a very diverse community, I quickly learned that it was not just white people who had a lack of regard for blacks. Many of my classmates subliminally expressed to me that their Asian moms and dads did not like black people but liked me because of my intelligence. Many minorities have only had exposure to blacks through different propaganda in their home countries. They are suspect of what they don’t understand. Many of them are trying not to experience the oppressive hand of white people themselves, so they try not to make much noise. But by failing to acknowledge the sufferings of the oppressed, you become the oppressor. This mentality of “not my people, not my problem” is the danger that has left many of their own countries in turmoil as developed countries turn a blind eye to the genocides and war crimes that take place there.
It is evident that for a variety of reasons, black lives do not matter to people regardless of race. But as I mentioned earlier, there is no benefit in bringing up these points unless this discussion is geared towards figuring out solutions. Lookout for my next post that will focus on practical solutions.
Keep up with Arianna on Twitter, @carri_ari!