What Van Jones Taught Me About Black Lives Matter.

Protesters walked along Washington Avenue during a Black Lives Matter rally on April 29, 2015, in Minneapolis. Image via RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER, STAR TRIBUNE

Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones is an African American Political Activist, and author known for some of his works such as “Rebuild The Dream”. On Jones’s website and his most recent article “The Messy Truth”, Team Van writes “In America today, the establishment is on the ropes, the rebels are on the rise, and now the people are ready to talk.” And they’re right. The Messy Truth is about hearing and understanding people’s hopes and worst fears. As an activist, Jones would argue the same that understanding everyone’s worldview is complicated, but we need to learn to do so and face the brutal honesty. As an activist, Van Jones supports and backs up organizations such as Black Lives Matter, a chapter based international organization working for the validity of Black life and rebuilding the black liberation movement, and fighting against violence and systematic racism against black people. Jones explains his theory about police brutality as “What we need to be able to do is say crazy people getting guns and doing horrible things is inexcusable, and all of our movements, religious and political, need to stand against violence.“(Media Matters for America/CNN Interview with Buck Sexton).

CNN Political Activist gets emotional about Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s election. “How will I explain this to my children?”

The clairvoyant disjunctures occurring in this nation are so provident that it could destroy the idea of ever having a progressive democracy. When it comes to the most basic of values such as respecting one another, it seems we’ve become unable to do so. In recent news, the people of the Black community try to raise awareness about the unjust and recurrent police brutality that’s happening to innocent victims of the community by using “the most uncontroversial slogan conceivable, ‘black lives matter.’”(Huffington Post article). This popular hashtag has though been misunderstood by those who insist on imagining an “only” onto the phrase. “What’s fueling this is a sense that nobody cares and that the official pronouncements of our government show a level of indifference and a lack of concern.” states Van Jones. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the retort hashtag of “all lives matter” is a high- profile target for those who oppose the government’s discretion against the black community. “Whatever it takes to get Black Lives Matter on the national agenda is what we’re seeking to do”.

Over the past several years we have borne witness to what protecting and serving looks like for black lives in the United States. We have borne witness to numerous videos displaying the injustices of police brutality on mostly black lives. To the most unfortunate though, there seems to always be a new name on the list of lives taken away by these officers. It has nearly been two years since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, two years near since the Ferguson, MO. case of Michael Brown, and statistics according to The Guardian, state that there have been 560 (and counting) deaths in the year 2016 alone. On the line are these activists protesting against the officers who are acting against black lives with immunity.

On the Buzzfeed website, there’s a timeline article of some if not all of the most recent police brutality reports since the year 2014 until the current. Starting with Dontre Hamilton, who on April 30th 2014, was shot 14 times after so call “disrupting the peace” as he suffered from diagnosed schizophrenia. Then there was Eric Garner, who on July 14th 2014, was put in an illegal choke hold by a police officer for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. On November 14th 2014, Tanisha Anderson died after officers slammed her head onto the concrete after taking her into custody. And there’s Tamir Rice, who on November 22 2014, was shot at age 12 while he was unarmed as police officers mistook his toy gun for a real one.

A still from the confrontation between Eric Garner and Officer Daniel Pantaleo. <Quah, Nicholas, and Laura E. Davis. Buzzfeed.com, 1 May 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.>

The urgency to act upon these men and women were all for accusations of petty crimes, or not crimes at all. How are these officers-who in every situation above happen to be white- going to justify their action against these victims if their reasoning had not been rightfully convicted? Is it not unjust to let their infractions pass because they are above the law, and are supposedly enforcing it? “We have a problem with crazy people doing crazy things in this country because they can all get guns. Dylann Roof went in there and shot up a whole church full of African-Americans, and he said he did it because of this racial propaganda that is growing by the so-called alt-right. But we don’t talk about that.”(ALTERNET) says Jones.

But like every conflict, there’s always another side striking. On MadWorldNews.com, statistics were derived from the FBI.gov resource that African Americans only make up 13 percent of the population but commit half the homicides. Data derived from the Department of Justice, from 1980 to 2008, argues that Black people committed 52 percent of the homicides within a 36 year span. Again, in 2013, Blacks committed the highest percent rate of all homicides at 38 percent, while Whites committed a total of 31 percent. Another misrepresenting fact according to criminologist Dr. Richard R. Johnson and his research from filed FBI reports dated from January 2009 to December 2012, 112 Blacks died in both cases of justified and unjustified police killings. On the other hand, Blacks killed 17,888 other Blacks a year during that time period. However, despite each argument, each set of facts do not have a set agenda, and were derived from government and other sources (FBI Data Table Link).

Black Lives Matter Protesters use Mall of America as a distraction for airport protesting in Bloomington, Minnesota. Image via http://www.mercurynewsdaily.com/

The matter is a pressing issue. “And some people live in a world where it’s just a pressing issue in politics and some people live in a world where it’s actually our kids dying,” Jones argues. Regardless of either perspective, the urgency of the situation should have the same value of importance to all communities, African American or not. “So temper — I would say temper your perspective with the urgency that black lives are actively under attack and we are in a terrible war with our own country,”(Van Jones Shuts Down…). “All Lives Matter” is a perilous statement because it is only said in opposition to when others argue for Black Lives Matter. As Jones would say, the urgency of this fight is the is the same urgency of Sandra Bland’s, Or Tamir Rice’s or Philando Castile’s fight for justice. This nation is under attack by its own people, and the only way we can stop it is to be aware that black lives do matter, now more than ever.


Garcia / Raw Story, Arturo. “Van Jones Shuts Down CNN Guest Trying to Use Dallas

Shootings to Smear ‘Black Lives Matter’” Alternet. N.p., 8 July 2016. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

Http://mediamatters.org/authors/media-matters-staff/70. “CNN’s Van Jones Calls Out

Conservative Guest For Smearing The Black Lives Matter Movement For The Actions Of

A Few.” Media Matters for America. N.p., 08 July 2016. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

Mengel, Gregory. “Van Jones Schools Us All.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com

22 July 2016. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

@pamkeyNEN. “Black Lives Matter Activist: ‘We Are in a Terrible War with Our Own

Country’ — Breitbart.” Breitbart. N.p., 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

Quah, Nicholas, and Laura E. Davis. Buzzfeed.com, 1 May 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.



Williams, Chris. “Van Jones on Mass Incarceration, Black Lives Matter, and Ava DuVernay’s

‘The 13th’” EBONY. N.p., 7 Oct. 2016. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

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