If there was one phrase we couldn’t ignore this year, it was the powerful affirmation by African Americans and their allies that “Black lives matter”.
In the wake of increased violence against African Americans by police officers and white vigilantes, the #BlackLivesMatter movement sparked a resurgence of Black pride, inspiring a host of nationwide protests and creative hashtags to lift the morale of a budding Black generation facing potential extinction. Intent on drawing national attention to this trend of racialized violence, African Americans are loudly and proudly asserting their Black identities and it’s making some White people really uncomfortable.
As Blacks become more visible, Whites have become more vocal about their desire to maintain the racial status quo. From reactionary hashtags like #whitegirlsaremagic to the cries of outrage at the lack of White actors in NBC’s The Wiz, it appears quite a few White folks resent these unapologetic displays of Blackness. They want the world to remember that white lives matter, too — and to do so quickly.
Such was the case at Popps Ferry Elementary in Biloxi, Mississippi when 8-year-old Makiyah-Jae was forced to change out of a “Black Girls Rock” t-shirt because, according to the superintendent, school officials are “always guarding against how do we not offend anybody.” The fatal flaw with the superintendent’s logic is his assumption that one truth wholly negates the other. That is, if “Black girls rock,” then white girls do not.
Let the record show that there are scores of Disney princesses that prove #whitegirlsaremagic and that there was not one Black actor in the 1939 film adaptation of 1939 The Wizard of Oz. We are bombarded with countless images of Whiteness that affirm that White lives matter, yet a time where an unarmed black man is murder every by police every 28 hours, it is unclear whether black lives mean anything at all.
To say that Black Lives Matter is not merely an assertion of race pride, it is an act of resistance. It is a means for a historically voiceless people to shout, holler and yell and to finally be heard. And while it attempts to uplift blackness, it doesn’t necessarily condemn whiteness.
In fact, the sentiment behind any movement against racism is rooted in a humanist rationale that seeks full equality for all people irrespective of race, gender or ethnicity, so that any argument against it is inherently counterproductive to the social progression of humanity.
Despite these differences of thought, both Black and White Americans agree that race relations are pretty lousy. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, nearly 60% of Americans think race relations are generally bad, including large portions of both Blacks and Whites, and nearly 40 percent think they are getting worse.
And they just may be right.The escalating social tension between Blacks and Whites has created a burgeoning racial divide where violence against people of color is normalized part of everyday culture.
It’s about time someone put out the memo: Dear White people, pro-Black doesn’t mean anti-White.
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