Do All Lives Matter or Just Mine?

When Black people shout “Black Lives Matter!” it’s not that they deny the lives of others but rather in an inward sense say, “We are here too, and we need help!”

The term ‘blue lives matter’ was coined in 2014 by a New York based group of officers, after the shooting and killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri in direct retort to the “criminals” who protested Brown’s unjust and untimely death and shout ‘Black Lives Matter.” It can not be a coincidence that a year prior in February of 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, three black women and leaders in the community Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi founded the “Black Lives Matter” movement as a legitimate cause to get behind. Black people consider ‘blue lives matter’ to be a retaliation and a comeback rather than a valid argument backed by years of oppression historically. In the words of famous singer-songwriter and rapper Joyner Lucas in his song ‘I’m Not Racist’, “Screaming, ‘All Lives Matter,’ is a protest to my protest, what kind of s*** is that?”

Throughout U.S. history, Black people have been subject and victim of abuse by a system setup to put us in the tight confines of modern slavery, i.e. the prison and judicial system, or the court of public opinion. Stereotypes pushed by white slave masters about ‘happy slaves,’ followed by the old Jim-Crow and propaganda about the value and work ethic of a black person which impacted our housing and job security. With no jobs in this economy and society black people and people of color are most of the homeless and unemployed population, becoming more susceptible to becoming a crime statistic because when the world is setting you up to fail, what else is there to turn to? When someone retorts, “blue lives matter” to “Black lives matter” they invalidate the struggle.

Being Black in America was never a choice or a lifestyle, and because of the color of our skin, we are beaten and dogged in the streets, jobs and educational opportunities denied to us, and every day we live in fear that if we speak the wrong way or step in the wrong neighborhood we will be persecuted. Being an officer of the law in America or “civil servant” is a choice and unlike my skin tone I can not take it off.

“Blue lives” don’t matter because you know what you signed up for when you put on that uniform. As a civil servant, you swear on the constitution that ““I, officer name, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.” Any officer in service swears by this code, yet in almost every precinct or station there is a secondary agenda or an officer is left to their own moral compass when making life or death decisions on someone else’s behalf.

One can’t speak for racists and/or policemen, but when they and their families shout “blue lives matter,” it invalidates the more than 100-year struggle Black people have faced simply for the fact that one statement ‘sounds wrong’ so it must be wrong. False; blue lives matter is not a valid movement or statement because policemen are not a beating life force, they are a uniform and a job choice that can be taken off at any moment. It is a falsity said in opposition to an oppressed minority’s cries for help.

When I hear ‘blue lives matter,’ I don’t always disagree entirely, because I think of my uncle Dave who is a proud member of the Chicago Police Department and a tall dark-skinned black man. When he takes off that uniform I wonder if the same people who protest our “violent” protests in the streets will see him as the same proud officer or another black man who is the antithesis of the predominantly white male judicial system. I don’t know him in a professional setting, but when I think of him in the line of duty, his life matters. But not any more or any less than his partner, or the beat cop on my block, or the officer who shot my best friend’s boyfriend.

No one human life is more valuable than the next, but when a minority group is being treated less than human by another group, they have a right to say “Black Lives Matter.” The systemic oppressor in turn does not get to argue about their life and virtue. Black lives do matter, and “blue lives” simply don’t exist.