This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
August 9, 2014. Michael Brown, an 18 year old, unarmed man is shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson. He is reported to have robbed a corner shop of several packets of cigarillos with his friend Dorian Johnson, and pushed a store clerk out of the way when they attempted to stop him from leaving. Darren Wilson and his partner heard a report of the incident on their police radio, and shortly after spotted Brown and Johnson and attempted to stop them by reversing their police cruiser into their path, blocking them in. Brown and Wilson reportedly were then involved in a struggle for control of Wilson’s gun through the window of the car. The gun went off, and the teenagers fled. The officers then continued to pursue them on foot for a time while they ran, before Brown turned to face them and made a move toward them, at which time, Wilson opened fire. Twelve shots were fired in total, many hitting Brown in the chest and arm. There was speculation as to whether Brown held up his hands in surrender or not, as conflicting testimonies from witnesses were given after the shooting. Regardless, the facts are these: Brown was unarmed, and Wilson fired repeatedly with fatal intention.
Since Michael Brown’s shooting, a poignant human rights movement known as Black Lives Matter has been formed, and conversation about it has blown up on the Internet. If you type ‘Black Lives Matter’ into Google, you get over 14 million search results, and an increasingly large number of these are far from positive. Black Lives Matter is a movement that seeks to stand out against the terrifying actuality that the United States police force have been allowed time and time again to shoot and kill unarmed black people without consequence. In 2015, in excess of 100 unarmed black people were murdered by US officers, with many more deaths in the years prior and since, so, understandably, thousands upon thousands of angry spectators have decided that enough is enough. These people are writing articles, making banners, t-shirts, videos, and staging protests in defence of their right to life, and to not live in constant fear that they might lose their life at any moment on the whim of a racist employee of their home country. These are not dangerous criminals, they are not walking around flashing weapons and intimidating the general public. As previously stated, Michael Brown was unarmed when he was shot, and Darren Wilson shot at him 12 times. Since Michael’s shooting there have been at least 1083 reported cases of unlawful killing by police officers, with black people being twice as likely to be the victims than any other race. This clear disparity has not gone unnoticed, and without any knowledge of when or where the next shooting might be, black people and other sympathetic parties are living in constant fear – and white people can’t stand it.
The hashtag ‘#AllLivesMatter’ made it’s debut soon after the #BlackLivesMatter trend was born. The intention behind #AllLivesMatter was to fight back against the singling out of one race above others… in the opinion of #AllLivesMatter supporters.
This is the part where I get opinionated.
In theory, All Lives Matter is a great message. It is an inclusive message that supports the right to life of every single person on the planet, but the actual ‘movement’ misses the point.
Imagine you’re in town. You’re walking around, minding your own business, then suddenly you trip and fall. Maybe you hit your head, maybe you break your arm, who knows? You’ve sustained some form of injury. You look around at the people walking past you, and you ask them for help.
“Please,” you say, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
“So what?” says a passer by, “I fell down once, EVERYONE falls down sometime, don’t make such a fuss.”
The passer by is #AllLivesMatter. The fallen person is in a vulnerable position, and desperately needs someone to notice and come to their rescue, but the passer by sees this as some kind of Special Little Snowflake complex where they want to be given special treatment. Obviously, the passer by has missed the point. You don’t need picking up when you’ve not even fallen down in the first place. The movement is called “Black Lives Matter”, not “White Lives Don’t Matter”, it has a focal point, as is one of the first rules of bringing about change. You wouldn’t kick off at a dog sanctuary because it doesn’t allow cats? Journalists don’t get hate mail after an article about a terrorist attack because they haven’t mentioned every attack or terrorist ever? Right now I’m writing about a specific subject, am I being exclusionary because #AllSubjectsMatter?
By trying to make the movement inclusive, we are taking the focus away from the problem. Yes, white person, your life DOES matter, but how often have you left the house in the morning and thought ‘I wonder if I’m going to be shot today’? There is a clear correlation in middle America between the colour of someone’s skin and the clear and present danger of their imminent demise at the hands of the people who are sworn to protect them. I understand your frustration with your assumption that there is something very public happening that you’re excluded from, but, I hate to break it to you, not everything is made FOR YOU. Almost all of our media is made for white people, how about for once in our lives we let an oppressed group have a moment in the spotlight to highlight the injustice done to their people. It is a statistically significant fact that black people are being specifically targeted. They’re the ones that need our help. For once in your life, think of someone else without taking it as a personal offence when they don’t accept your whining that you want attention too.
We’re not the focus. It’s not about you. Shut up.