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Amidst the uproar of the Black Lives Matter protests in June, another movement decided that they wanted in on the attention: Blue Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a political and social movement that advocates for non-violent protesting against police brutality and racially motivated violence against the black community. BLM started gaining a large following after the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man. On May 25, 2020, police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes, killing him. The video of his murder was released to the public. Thousands took to the streets to protest Floyd’s and many other African-American deaths at the hands of the police. Protests began in Minneapolis on May 26, 2020 and soon spread to other parts of the United States and to other countries as well.
Ironically, protests against police brutality were met with even fiercer police force. Police departments across the U.S. arrested over 10,000, mostly non-violent, protesters. Police regularly used teargas, rubber bullets, batons, and pepper spray at protests. Some progress was made and Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. The arrest of Floyd’s killer was but a single step taken in the process of mitigating police brutality. But we are far from reaching justice and Chauvin was released on a $1 million bail. Partial justice for one black man is not going to resolve the ongoing mistreatment of black people by law enforcement in America.
“There have been small victories, but we are still fighting,” said senior Adanna Ogu, the co-president of the Black Student Union. “The problem is that things will pop up on the news and then leave just as quick. Black lives are not social media trends.”
Simply because slavery was abolished does not mean that racism no longer exists. Racism resides in our country when law enforcement values white lives more than black lives. Racism continues when the black population is charged more than their white counterparts for committing the same crime. According to a racial disparity report by professor of criminal justice, William J. Sabol, “African Americans who entered prison could expect to serve more time than whites for all violent and drug crimes.” These problems will continue to exist if we do not recognize that racial discrimination continues to harm black lives.
Black people are killed by police officers at a rate 2.8 times higher than white people, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), an organization that provides biomedical and genomic information. African-Americans make up 13.4% of America’s population and police officers kill 23.4% of the African-American population. Furthermore, NCBI found that black victims were more likely to be unarmed than white victims. This tells us that black people are disproportionately targeted by cops for nonviolent offences and that these cops often resort to using lethal force. Black people are not targets and police officers should stop treating them as such. Black people should not have to be ‘good’ citizens for their deaths to be viewed as unjust; police simply must halt using lethal force when it is not needed. Obviously, we are angered for the white people that are unjustly killed by police officers. But while more white people are killed by police officers per year, black people are killed at a much higher rate and there are around 5.7 times more white people than black people in America which explains why there are more white deaths. And what does not quite make sense to me is that police brutality against a white person is still police brutality. Shouldn’t we see these issues and fight against a corrupt system?
It is very important that one does not misunderstand the movement, to be saying that black lives are superior to other lives. “Black lives matter” is used to remind the world that inequality does exist. It simply means that, for centuries, the well-being of African Americans has been a secondary priority for those in power. This way of thinking is no longer acceptable, and in order to be anti-racist we have to be actively fighting against it.
All Lives Matter (ALM), a conservative movement that coincides with Blue Lives Matter, really only portrays the impression that white people cannot handle not being in the spotlight for once in history. Blue Lives Matter exists to honor cops for “risking their lives daily,” or in other words, doing their job. ALM supporters often do not include LGBTQIA, Muslims, indigenous people, or people of color. It is a given for any person with a conscience that all lives do matter. The creation of this movement takes the focus away from the problem at hand and only pushes us further from reaching true equality among people of all races, genders, and sexualities.
Another area of contention for mainstream conservatives is the acronym “ACAB.” It is a popular phrase frequently said by those in the anti-police brutality movement. Often misinterpreted as standing for “all cops are bad,” it really translates to “all cops are b******s.” While it may not seem so, these two interpretations hold very different meanings. “B******s” stands for “b******ize” which conveys the idea that the police system is corrupt. “ACAB” is less about the individual police men and women and more about how the institution as a whole is inherently oppressive. This term is not meant to degrade those in uniform, but instead explain that every police officer has decided to work and be a part of a racist system. While this term is a predominant aspect of the BLM movement, it is integral to note how it is flawed and may drive us farther away from coming to the same conclusion—equality. “ACAB”, at face value, can come off as offensive and insensitive to those that know cops personally, are in the police force, or simply value the work officers do. And while marginalizing all cops as bad people is not the motive behind the term, many construe it as such. The basic premise behind the BLM movement is the fight for a world where every life is treated equally. Language is something to be wary of and people’s interpretations of language can greatly divide people. Furthermore, I believe that many would agree with the message behind “ACAB” but it is difficult to even get others to move past the acronym due to its offensive language. Overall, “ACAB” is a term that holds a lot of weight and flaws but we should not get caught up arguing on wording and should place our efforts towards no longer tolerating authority figures who abuse their powers.
“Black Lives Matter is not [a movement] against the police,” Ogu said. “Some skew the meaning of Black Lives Matter to make it seem like we are against the police occupation but instead we are fighting against police brutality.”
Let me be clear, it is okay to appreciate law enforcement, but it is unacceptable to ignore all of the system’s flaws. It is okay to be thankful for those that protect and serve our community but idealizing them in opposition to a movement that works to protect the Black community is unacceptable. Blue lives do not exist. Cops choose their career and can take off their uniforms at the end of the day. Black people do not choose their skin color. You can not draw equivalence between racial identity and a job.
What some people need to understand is that risking your life does not automatically make you noble. Cops signed up for this job and putting their life on the line to protect the community is in the job description. But really, who are they protecting? They aren’t protecting the black community. In fact, police are doing quite the opposite—protecting themselves from black people. So much for being brave and selfless. Black lives should not be exempt from protection because of a cop’s own racial bias.
We need to begin listening to and believing the unjust experiences the black community has gone through. We must not remain complicit when human lives are being wrongfully taken, and we must stop turning a blind eye to the evident racism embedded in our nation’s systems. George Floyd, David Mcatee, Manuel Elijah Ellis, Dreasjon Reed, Ahmuad Arbery, Breonna Taylor. These are seven of the 164 African Americans killed by the police force in 2020. Treat black lives with the same respect and protection as you do others. Enough is enough.
“Racism is so deeply integrated into our institutions,” Ogu said. “It’s important to notice and dismantle what we see and identify as malicious and unjust. Our end goal is simply to be treated as equals.”