By J. Pharoah Doss
Wednesday, February 25, 2015.
I first noticed the statement Black Lives Matter on protest signs
thought the statement was an emotional response directed toward grand jurors
that chose not to hold police officers responsible for the deaths of two black
men. I was reminded of signs that
declared I AM A MAN held by Memphis sanitation strikers in 1968.
statement I AM A MAN points out the obvious and means nothing besides
the fact. But when directed toward city
officials that guaranteed second class citizenship to a segment of its
workforce by enforcing discriminatory policies designed to dehumanize the
statement becomes a bold affirmation of humanity.
thought the statement Black Lives Matter attempted something
similar. I thought it implored jurors
to place themselves in the position of family members of the unarmed mourning a
life that mattered instead of role playing or reliving their fear of black
males by placing themselves in the position of the police.
I saw a commercial for Roland Martin’s news program on TV One that stated Black
Lives Matter was a movement. I
checked online. There it was, Black
Lives Matter/Not a Moment, a Movement.
According to the website it started in 2012 after a community watch
volunteer was acquitted for murdering a black teenager.
the statement I read on protest signs was not an affirmation of a higher
principle nor was it speaking truth to power at that moment.
was an advertisement.
ad for a movement that began in 2012 and didn’t resurface until 2014, but what
was the movement doing in between that time?
Maybe that’s an unfair question for a movement still in its
infancy. In a recent article Thomas
Sowell asked, “When mobs of protesters declare Black Lives Matter does that
mean ALL Black lives matter -- or only … black lives lost in conflict with the
think that’s a fair question.
Sowell also stated, “If not a single policeman
killed a single black individual anywhere in the United States for this entire
year, it would not reduce the number of black homicide victims by one percent.”
take the stats further.
to the Bureau of Justice Statistics roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered by other
blacks per year. The Center for Disease
Control reports, during a thirteen year period (1999-2011), 1,130 blacks were
killed by the police.
In thirteen years police killings are less
than a quarter of black homicides per year.
Now multiply black homicides per year by thirteen. (The product of the equation is not mentioned
to symbolize the amount of attention paid to these numbers by black
organizations.) According to these statistics between 2012, when the Black
Lives Matter movement began, and 2014, when the movement resurfaced,
another 7,000 blacks were murdered.
Is it possible in between this time the Black
Lives Matter movement was dormant because it was waiting for a white police
officer to kill another black so they could advertise their product of protest
in which headlines are the profit? And
since there is no profit in protesting the black homicide rate the Black
Lives Matter movement will remain mute like its counterpart -- inner city
street silence, which contributes to the high rate of unsolved murders.
are signs all over my neighborhood to deter the rate of homicide in the black
community. They read: Stop Shooting! We love you!
they should read: Stop Shooting! Black Lives Matter!
First published in The New Pittsburgh Courier
J. Pharaoh Doss is a contributor to The New
Pittsburgh Courier. He blogs at