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By J. Pharoah Doss

 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015.

 

 

 

I first noticed the statement Black Lives Matter on protest signs in 2014. 

            I 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.

 

            The 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.

 

            I 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.            

 

            Then 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.

            So 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.

 

            It was an advertisement.

            An 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 police?”

            I 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.”

 

            Let’s take the stats further.

            According 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.

 

            There are signs all over my neighborhood to deter the rate of homicide in the black community.  They read:  Stop Shooting!  We love you!

            Maybe 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 jpharoahdoss.blogspot.com

 

 

           

Do Black Lives Matter to #Black Lives Matter?

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