All Lives Matter? - America’s Negative Identity Crisis
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them” - Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Between 1525 and 1859, over 12.5 million people were kidnapped, captured, and/or sold from Africa and sent to the Americas through the brutal and often deadly transatlantic slave trade. The ones who survived the tortuous two-month journey were enslaved in the America’s to make an economic fortune for their white owners. When black American’s gained “freedom” on June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth), dreams in the form of self-determination, educational opportunities, and full rights of citizenship coupled with the promise that African Americans be compensated for their enslavement with 40 acres and a mule, all seemed hopeful. But over a century and half later, these hopes and dreams have still not materialized. Since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, these commitments to black people have gone unfulfilled and black people are still not treated equally in the “Land of the Free”. Comprehending the sheer scale of this forced migration (and slavery’s subsequent spread across the country via the interregional slave trade) and it’s continuous effects on society today can be a daunting task. It means in a country that claims to be the leader of the "Free World", being a racist and discriminatory towards blacks shows just how much further we have to go as a country and proves just how low in society some people actually are.
Racism is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as follows:
2 a) a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles
b) a political or social system founded on racism
3 racial prejudice or discrimination
The Truth Behind the Curtain
Pain and anguish are on full display not only in the country but also around the world. After the horrific murder of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others – This is a pivotal moment in what will be known as world history, these three deaths, in particular, have forced people to take off their blindfolds and see how racism is on full display in America and beyond. These publicized moments are when everything became clearly visible to the world. The crisis of racism in America is so powerful, it has escalated to levels unimaginable just a few short years ago. These are the dangerous consequences perpetuated by the formation of America’s negative identity.
In light of the recent events (peaceful protest, riots, looting...oh yeah, more killings of unarmed black people), people are now forced to have difficult conversations, especially across racial lines. Some of the most controversial conversations these days are on full display. When one person says, “Black lives matter,” another responds, “No, all lives matter.” This particular conversation is something that has plagued the Black Lives Matter movement in America since the term and organization came on the scene in 2013, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of black teenager, Trayvon Martin.
To this end, a better way to understand the movement of "Black Lives Matter", is if we separate it from the organization(s) with the words "Black Lives Matter" in the title. I think this is where a lot of confusion comes from within the broader community. By looking solely at the driving phrase “Black Lives Matter” we can understand that up until this point, in America, the truth is Black Lives Didn’t Matter, at least not as much as any other ethnicity group. It goes without saying that, All Lives Matter, but it’s one subset of lives, in particular, that’s currently undervalued, and that’s Black Lives!
“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible” - Maya Angelou
Today, the term “nationalism” is being used out of context at an alarming rate. Since a 2018 rally, where Trump publicly declared that he was a “Nationalist” ( https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/23/politics/nationalism-explainer-trnd/index.html) racial tension has been becoming increasingly apparent. Usually, we hear about this term in the mainstream media and other outlets referring to the growing movement of “white nationalist” that are coming out in droves from the ALT-Right to antagonize the peaceful protesters of the Black Lives Matter movement. We hear about American nationalism being synonymous with “White nationalism” especially when used alongside the slogan “Make America Great AGAIN” (Can someone please define the word “again” for me? I clearly do not understand this word in this context). White nationalism is used to describe a group of Americans who believe their nationality is defined by the color of one’s skin.
With Trump consistently using the term "silent majority" (coined by Richard Nixon), as his hope for reelection, it's important that we look around and see who is being silent during these times. Who is choosing not to get involved? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our Friends”. Sometimes we all have to draw a line in the sand and we have to pick a side. This is an issue that has no in-between. There is no walking the fence.
“However difficult it is to hear; However, shocking it is to hear; We have got to face the fact that, America is a Racist Country” - Martin Luther King Jr.
The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others have made the world take notice of the injustices happening in America. To even think “All Lives Matter” in the wake of these deaths proves that “the silent majority’s” way of processing information is nothing short of them inherently suffering from America’s negative identity crisis. The term “Black Lives Matter'' is not here to say that other ethnicities' lives don’t matter but it is to protect the victims of a flawed outdated system created by old-school racist capitalist, from the dangers and injustices of continuous failed leadership in America. Only when "Black Lives Matter" will "All Lives Matter". Only when we are included in the "liberty and justice for all" portion of the Pledge of Allegiance will things get better for America.