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Common objections to the Black Lives Matter movement

On the center divide on Highway 55 in Minneapolis after grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. Photo: Juan Conatz

On the center divide on Highway 55 in Minneapolis after grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson.
Photo: Juan Conatz

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’re aware of the protests and actions that have sprung up in the wake of the police murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. In Minneapolis, we’ve taken our marches onto the highways, blocked traffic, demanded to be met at city hall, and defied the Mall of America by gathering there for a rally.

Much like anywhere else though, along with a lot of support, there’s been a fair amount of negative reaction. In the comment sections of local media, in our workplaces, maybe even in our families, we’ve begun to notice a string of repeated objections.

Patrick O’Donohue, an IWW member and a participant in the local Black Lives Matter movement, responds to some of these objections.

Common objections to the Black Lives Matter movement
by Patrick O’Donohue

“People need to stop making things about race.”

Agreed. Racist institutions and people need to stop making things about race by treating people of color unfairly. Until they do, we should all point out their racism and criticize them for it.

“We need to come together, not be divided!”

Agreed. We should come together against racism.

“ALL lives matter!”

Agreed. So, when the police treat lives as if they don’t matter, we object. When the police target some ethnic groups, such as black people or Native Americans, for disproportionate abuse, we point out that racist targeting. When police continue to summarily execute black people and get away with it over and over, and treating black lives as if they do not matter, it is appropriate for us all to say, “Black lives matter!”- because all lives matter.

“Irish-Americans were persecuted, too”

Agreed. Many decades ago, but agreed. That’s why Irish-Americans should stand on the side of people who are currently going through discrimination similar to what our ancestors went through. Same goes for people whose ancestors were Italian, German, Jewish, Slavic, Spanish, or any other ethnicity that faced discrimination when they first came to America. Really, the same goes for all of us.

“All this race stuff just divides us against the real problems like class and government abuses of power”

Agreed. Racism has historically been used to keep exploited and governed populations from working together against their common interests. As such, racism is a supporting pillar maintaining the power of class and the state. Instead of allowing racism to fool us into supporting the institutions of the state and of class, we should unite with people of color against those institutions and against the racism that upholds them.

“White people get killed by the police, too!”

Agreed. We get killed at a much lower rate, and the media doesn’t demonize the white victims of police brutality to nearly the same degree that black victims of police brutality get demonized, but yes: white people get killed by the police, too– especially white queer, mentally ill, homeless, or working class people. These aspects of police discrimination should be discussed, just like the racial aspect should be- and, of course, every summary execution by the police should be condemned. The demands that the Black Lives Matter movement is making- demands like body cameras, independent investigations of police violence, community oversight of the police, and an end to ‘broken windows’ policing and the drug war- are demands that will help all victims of police brutality, regardless of our race.

“You’re inconveniencing people!”

Agreed. That’s the point of civil disobedience- we aim to make it impossible to continue ignoring the problem of police brutality and racism. We aim to make our movement a constant problem for those in power and for those who’ve ignored the problem, because we have seen that politely asking for the state to please stop summarily executing people doesn’t work. If you only support social change when it’s convenient, non-disruptive, and doesn’t interrupt business as usual, then you don’t support social change at all. Change is disruptive by definition.

“You protestors are breaking the law!”

Agreed. The law is breaking human beings and communities every day. The law targets working class people and people of color for mass incarceration through the racially targeted drug war, ‘broken windows’ policing that gives unforgiving punishment for minor ‘offenses’, and policies of minimum sentencing. The law operates as a back-door tax on the communities the police target, and as a way to funnel people into prisons to be used as cheap labor. The law covers for the police when the police murder unarmed people. We are absolutely breaking the law, and hope to break it so thoroughly it can no longer be used to target and oppress working class people and people of color.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ooh, how about “blacks kill moar blacks than cops dooooO what about black on black crime omg!!!!” next!

    (great responses, thanks for the post)

    January 16, 2015
  2. Carlos Moyano #

    My objection, this stuff literally doesn’t affect me at all. I am a minority (Latino) and I have had many interactions with police only one of which was I arrested as a minor. I keep my nose clean and respect police officers and the job they do. I am a lawful gun owner, pay my taxes and support my government and nation. I am also a “millenial” I never went to college and pulled myself up into a white collar career.

    If I can do it so can others. Minorities that feel that they feel discrimination do so because their communities and cultures reinforce negative stereotypes. If a business owner has issues with people who sag their pants and are “hood” and continually be burned by them than you better bet they keep their eyes open for those people. It’s common sense.

    Acting ignorant, rude, and aggressive and embracing prison/gang culture and calling it your ethnic culture is both stupid and wrong. Communities that do so have to fix themselves clean up their act and pull up their pants before they can ever expect to join middle class America.

    January 18, 2015
  3. Kenietta #

    The experiences of one does not refute the racial realities of thousands of African Americans who have experienced oppression, targeting and aggression from the police as a historical legacy going back to the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. Black people did not create or originate gang violence, violent cultural norms or crime. European immigrants and the colonists themselves were violent, organized into mob families and crime gangs when depressed economic opportunities created poverty.Crime is founded on an alternate economy when the mainstream economy fails to adequately employ urban populations. Violence has always been glorified in this country’s media from Westerners to Action films. In fact, white youth are the biggest consumers of Rap Music and Urban Attire yet somehow this fact remains ignored by White Supremacist Apologists. It is the flawed logic of the White Supremacist that suggests there is something inferior about the culture of minorities and superior about the culture of White Americans to explain racial disparities and experiences in this country. Educated Millennials reject such shallow and biased reasoning. White people commit crimes in their communities, sell drugs in their communities and kill other white people in school and movie theater shootings and bombings. They spread violence through wars, regime changes, assassinations and environmental contamination. They confront police openly armed and are unharmed.
    They use to burn people alive, castrate them, rape them and lynch them as community sport for both the young and old just two generations ago. If a violent culture is the justification there can be no violence found greater than what is perpetuated in white media and by white culture. It is white people who create slasher fics of the most appalling violence and violent video games. The double standards stop here. Yes there is crime in poverty stricken communities, but those criminals face the consequences of their crimes. If gangs were allowed to shoot middle class white people and then not even have to stand trial, how do you think those communities would respond? Terrorist organizations must be destroyed if a single white journalist is murdered, but what about thousands of people murdered by police who are unarmed, non resistent, passive and just shopping, walking, standing on their property, sleeping in their homes, asking for help after a reck or just involved in a traffic stop? What about the children as young as 7, the grandmothers, the college students, the business owners, the mentally disabled, the pregnant, the pre teens, the retired cops, the military veterans, ,black elected officials, the black celebrities and even an affluent University college Professor who have all suffered abuse, death and racial profiling by police?? All these victims are not thugs they aren’t even all in urban areas. Yet they share a similar experience of second class justice and terrorist policing. Your ignorance of the diversity of police targets in your ill informed analysis is regrettable, but that played out fallacy ends with this generation. Police shoot first and ask questions later in complete disregard for human life, human rights, the US Constitution and Due Process. They assume the role of judge, jury and executioner without accountability or rebuke and that ends today. White Middleclass America can either get on the right side of history or reassume their historical roles as angry faces protesting integrated counters, schools and voting booths in the face of inevitable change. Either way our ancestors did not solicit your approval then and we will not do so now. We and our International allies of all races will not stop until we achieve liberation and justice.

    January 18, 2015
    • T ZIlla #

      Yup, cuz you speak for the black nation

      No thanks I reject all nations, they don’t represent the working class. I’d gladly die as your comrade, I will NEVER be anyone’s ally.

      August 22, 2015
  4. T ZIlla #

    OK, so you’ve rejected Marxism, and now the IWW is effed also? Did it ever occur to you that things that benefit working class people will never get funded?

    O and the fact that black lives not mattering equally, just accidentally absent from your critique? And the fact that your just doing word for word SJW talking points, also an accident? BLM are Bourgeois ethnocentric nationalists, their intersectionality is feckless, and they are a net benefit to the existing capitalist structures.

    You don’t even have your own reasons for opposing the prison industrial complex, except that it is racist by it’s very nature.

    O and your also wrong about “black lives mattering”, if black lives matter because all lives matter… then a leftist should say, no lives matter. That caputures the essensce of why BLM are effed up, and they troll leftists BTW if you didnt know. BUt i know political realities and such….

    August 22, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Common objections to the Black Lives Matter movement – Patrick O’Donohue |
  2. I’m a Racist | Pagan Activist
  3. Common objections to the Black Lives Matter movement | Catskill bob's Blogosphere
  4. Disobedience’s Role in Revolution | emma bedor
  5. Black Lives Matter (at work) | The Organizer

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