Its 8 years since the creation of Black lives matter and nearly a year since the global Black lives matter protests around the world due to the death of George Floyd. The movement claims to highlight the racial inequality and the associated disregard for Black lives.
But how true is this?
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.BLM About Page
If you’re easily influenced you will conclude that Black people are being exterminated against like rats. Being shot down left, right and centre by Neo-Nazi groups which clearly isn’t the case anymore. Yes, in the not so distant past groups such as the KKK in the United States were a regular threat to the African-American population but in 2021 there not so much of a threat if at all.
We are expansive. We are a collective of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement. We also believe that in order to win and bring as many people with us along the way, we must move beyond the narrow nationalism that is all too prevalent in Black communities. We must ensure we are building a movement that brings all of us to the front.
What I struggle with is the use of the word ”BLACK” which is a very Western-centric label. The descriptor should be changed to peoples of African ancestry it sounds more formal and is more accurate. The above quote also states ”we must move beyond narrow nationalism” but national identity is extremely important when talking about issues affecting peoples of African ancestry. What a Nigerian face is not the same as what a Somali face to what a Afro-Brazilian face to what a Black-British person face. To ”move beyond narrow nationalism” would be to diminish the differences to the level of hardship each group experience. Some ”Black” people face different levels of oppression, discrimination and racism.
For example Malawi is one of the poorest Countries in the world with a population of 18.6 Million. The average life expectancy in Malawi is 63 years old this compares to 75 years old for African-Americans. In this situation who appears to be more privileged? You’d say the African-Americans but if you take BLM’s stance you should not divide ”Black” people based on nationality. I fear BLM give the illusion that many ”Black” people face the same struggles regardless of their language, accent, nationality and heritage. This is false.
Diamond workers have suffered abuse and often been kept in conditions akin to slavery. Human rights groups have reported that children younger than 12 work in some African mines. Amnesty International has released a report documenting the diamond trade in Central African Republic, claiming that the government there fails to check whether the diamonds finance armed groups that rape, loot and execute the country’s citizens.Blood Diamonds
As the above quote state Children younger than 12 are used as slaves to mine for diamonds which are sold abroad for expensive jewellery. Forced labour and outright slavery is a epidemic in Africa even in 2021, something the Western media rarely report. South Africa is said to have around 250,000 slaves which is described rightfully by this article as a shame.
Different countries use different terminology to describe “modern slavery”, including the term slavery itself, but the term includes other concepts such as human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and the sale and exploitation of children.
This is my issue with BLM issues like this need to be on the forefront of their agenda, the most serious issues affecting peoples of African ancestry should be their main focus.
But BLM’s main focus appears to not be based around the worst issues affecting people of African Ancestry but specific issues such as when a White Police Officer (typically, male , American) shoot a Black Individual (typically, male, American) This gives me the impression that that BLM’s stance is not ”Black Lives Matter” but instead Black Americans who are involved with a altercation with a White Police officer lives matter. However that would be a very long name for an activist group…
The worldwide reaction to the death of George Floyd was a massive over-exaggeration. The idea of anyone being killed for racial bias reasons or just incompetence on the part of the police officer is saddening. No one has the right to take someone else’s life but the violent reaction to one death has to be called into question.
The BLM riots culminated in the death of a Black Federal officer in Oakland, California on the 29th May 2020 while on duty during the riots. Did his Black life not matter?
The officer’s sister confirmed Underwood’s death in a message on her Facebook page. “My brother, Dave Patrick Underwood, a federal officer, was murdered 5/29/20 in Oakland California, while on duty during the riots. This Violence Must Stop.”
This video sums up how some BLM members view the world, storming a restaurant full of white people chanting ”Black Lives Matter!!” Does this stop the slave labour in Africa, the thousands of Afro-Brazilians who live in favelas, the Black Americans facing lack of opportunity in their neighbourhood due to racist under-investment or even help to cure internalised racism in many African diaspora communities?
The answer is no!
However it does cause division, heightens racial tensions and distracts people from the real issues which affect all Humans regardless of ethnicity. BLM only teaches people that the only way Black people can succeed is by asking White people in government for help. This is exactly what they should be protesting against. Individuals need to take more responsibility over their actions alongside prioritising the biggest issues affecting people of African ancestry.
The establishment use the BLM movement as classic divide and conquer. Seeking out existing divisions in our society and instead of remedying them its picked at like how a child picks at a scab.
So to answer the question Is Black lives matter helpful? Its a No from me…
Disclaimer – I prefer to use the phrase People of African ancestry as I believe its a more inclusive term as many individuals who are ”Black” do not see themselves as such. The term Black is a very Americanised term and also diminishes the diversity of the group.