The #BlackLivesMatter banner and movement came about after George Zimmerman was acquitted for killing an unarmed 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, who was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. According to the Black Lives Matter website, “Rooted in the experiences of black people in this country who actively resist our de-humanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-black racism that permeates our society. Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes.”
On its website, organizers also debunked a few myths about what the Black Lives Matter movement is, and what it isn’t. Below is the second part of that listing.
Myth #6: The Black Church Has No Role to Play
Many know that the black church was central to the Civil Rights Movement. This current movement has a very different relationship to the church than previous social justice movements, but black churches and preachers in Ferguson have been on the ground helping since the early days after Michael Brown’s death. Local pastors like Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Starsky Wilson, and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou have emerged as “Movement Pastors.”
Myth #7: The Movement Doesn’t Care About Queer or Trans Lives
The opening presenter at the first national convening of the movement for Black Lives in Cleveland this summer was organizer Elle Hearns, a trans, black woman from Ohio. Not only does the movement for Black Lives Matter embrace both queer and trans black people, but it has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight the unjust murders of of trans women of color, which is a national epidemic.
Myth #8: The Movement Hates White People
The statement “black lives matter” is not an anti-white proposition. Contained within the statement is an unspoken but implied “too,” as in “black lives matter, too.” This suggests that the statement is one of inclusion, rather than exclusion.
Myth #9: The Movement Hates Police Officers
This movement is not an anti-people movement; therefore, it is not an anti-police-officer movement. Most police officers are everyday people who want to do their jobs, make a living for their families, and come home safely at the end of their shift. This does not mean that police are not implicated in a system that criminalizes black people, demands that they view black people as unsafe and dangerous, and trains them to be more aggressive and less accommodating with black citizens. The Black Lives Matter movement is not trying to make the world more unsafe for police officers.
Myth #10: The Primary Goal Should Be the Vote
The Democratic National Committee endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement, but The Black Lives Matter network swiftly rejected that endorsement. While voting certainly matters, particularly in local municipalities like Ferguson, movement members are clear that voting for policies and politicians whose ultimate goal is to maintain a rotten and unjust system is counterproductive. The Black Lives Matter movement, together with the Occupy movement that started in 2011, is causing a resurgence of a viable and vocal (black) left in national politics.
Myth #11: There’s Not Actually a Movement at All
Until Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders sought the attention of Black Lives Matter participants, many didn’t even acknowledge the new racial justice movement even existed. Since August 2014, more than 1,030 protest actions have been held in the name of Black Lives Matter.
To read Part 1, go here.