#BlackLivesMatter. Did you know that? It’s funny that, up until this point, I was unaware that black lives did indeed matter. I just assumed that they didn’t matter. Thanks to the hashtag activism, I have now been alerted, and made aware of the fact that the lives of black people matter.
Michael Brown’s life mattered, as do all our lives. But when he strong-arm robbed a convenience store, then attempted to grab Officer Darren Wilson’s gun—as forensic evidence indicates—the fact that his life mattered wasn’t the issue. The decisions Michael Brown made during his altercation with Darren Wilson mattered more, and they are what ultimately led to his death.
Eric Garner’s life mattered. But when he resisted arrest for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes, his decisions mattered more. Unfortunately for Garner, his chronic asthma was triggered by Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s submission hold, which ultimately led to his suffocation.
Darren Wilson’s life matters. Not simply because he’s a cop, but because he’s a human being. Though there is no indication that he acted inappropriately given the circumstances of the altercation, he must live with the death of Michael Brown for the rest of his life. Regardless of the situation that caused him to fired his weapon, he took a life. His life matters, but his decision mattered more.
Daniel Pantaleo’s life matters. Though, like Wilson, there is no indication that his actions were inappropriate given the circumstances, they did set into motion a chain of events which ultimately led to a man’s death. Had he used that same submission maneuver on anyone else, they would have survived, but because of chronic asthma, a simple submission hold caused Garner to die. Daniel Pantaleo has to live with that for the rest of his life. His life matters, but his decision in that moment mattered more.
According to CNS News, in 2014, 63 police officers died in the line of duty, 46 of whom were shot to death. Their lives mattered. Their lives mattered not only because they chose on a daily basis to put their safety in jeopardy for the good of their city, but because they were human beings. But in many of the instances in which these police officers were killed, it was not their lives that mattered most, but their decisions, and the decisions of those whom they encountered.
Human beings have intrinsic value, and as such, are individually precious. But as human beings, our lives are not determined by our intrinsic value, but by the decisions made by ourselves, and those around us. It is our decisions that matter, and it is our decisions that can–in the blink of an eye–change us forever.
Michael Brown and Eric Garner made decisions that caused officers Wilson, and Pantaleo to use force. This force ended up being lethal in both cases. But the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter implies that the intrinsic value of human life supersedes the decisions we make that shape our lives. It takes numerous complex, and intricate issues, and whittles them down to a simple phrase, which does incredible injustice to the events that have taken place over the last several months. #BlackLivesMatter implies much more than it has the authority to imply.
#BlackLivesMatter tells us that there is an entrenched racism within the justice system because two police officers acted—to the best of our knowledge—within their ablest capabilities, given the circumstances in which they found themselves. #BlackLivesMatter indicts an entire justice system based on two cases that, for all intents and purposes, were not related to race in the slightest. #BlackLivesMatter is based on unfounded speculation which has only served to increase animosity toward the good men, and women who protect our communities with their lives. Because of this animosity, two sterling police officers, Wenjian Liu, and Rafael Ramos were executed while they sat in their police car. #BlackLivesMatter will only continue to contribute to the false narrative that all cops are racists, who want nothing more than to take out their aggression on blacks.
#BlackLivesMatter has given people license to attack the police without regard to propriety, as happened on December 23rd, when officers in Berkeley, MO. were forced to defend themselves against assault when approximately 100 protesters lashed out after an officer shot, and killed an armed black man, who had pulled, and pointed a gun at him–an incident which was confirmed by video surveillance.
Lastly, #BlackLivesMatter, which is based on nothing, is a slap in the face to all those who have suffered real racism in their lifetime. It takes the deaths of Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, two complicated circumstances in which necessarily quick decisions were made, and places them on equal footing with real and credible instances of racism—which is a foul comparison. #BlackLivesMatter is an injustice to our history as a nation; it devalues that for which it purports to stand.
We are the decisions we make. Those who hashtag #BlackLivesMatter have made the decision to stir up racial anger where there should be none. They have given others permission to attack innocent people, and assault those who protect, and serve their own communities. They have given permission for looters, and thugs to act out on misperceived notions of racial tension.
Black lives do matter, but #BlackLivesMatter is a sham.