On Tuesday afternoon, Chicago police were alerted of a video capturing a White reportedly mentally disabled male being assaulted, threatened, and tortured by two Black men and two Black women on the West Side of Chicago. As the victim lay bound and bloodied, the armed assailants screamed, “F**k White people” and “F**k Trump” as they continued their relentless assault.
Yet, in a nation where over 1 million violent assaults occur every year where this disgusting and despicable act is, unfortunately, far too common, we find ourselves enveloped in a storyline that’s breaking across the nation and trending on Twitter under the hashtag #BLMKidnapping.
Now, to be clear, there is absolutely zero evidence that anyone involved has any verifiable connection to Black Lives Matter. There is absolutely zero evidence that any group affiliated with Black Lives Matter on any level was involved in, advocated for or endorsed this behavior. At no point in the Facebook live video did the attackers claim any affiliation or association with Black Lives Matter or any other group of Black protesters.
Yet, conversations are raging on and offline—spear-headed by the perpetually-aggrieved White conservative right—elevating this unfortunate situation as less of an act of individual incursion, but rather the continuation of violent Black supremacy.
Their aim is to frame this one shameful act as an indictment not just of the suspects, and not just of Black folks in general, but rather the ideology of a Black freedom movement. This is important because the #BLMKidnapping hashtag isn’t about addressing a societal ill predicated on one assault; it’s about rallying the silent majority against the concept of Black equality and liberation.
#BlackLivesMatter is an ideology, not a single group. BLM ideology is based on anti-white race hatred.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) January 5, 2017
A few weeks ago, news broke of a $10 million lawsuit filed in Dietrich, Idaho, against the Dietrich School District by Black parents who say that the school didn’t do enough to protect their son from racial harassment, assaults, and rape carried out by three of his White football teammates. The three students, including 19-year-old John R. K. Howard and Tanner Ward, 17, taunted him with racial slurs, Confederate flags, and songs about lynching for months before committing the sexual assault on October 23, 2015. The White conservative right had the same access to social media that they have today, yet they were silent. There was no hashtag movement decrying the Confederacy, White militias, or Neo-Nazis. There was only deafening, yet discernible silence, which is becoming less about their ignorance and more about their tacit consonance.
The same silence that engulfs #AllLivesMatter when a White child is shot by the police and the same silence that exists among the #BlueLivesMatter crowd when a police officer is shot by a White man turns to boisterous chatter, re-tweets, and right wing media rants as soon as there’s an opportunity to knock Black Lives Matter and conflate them to the Ku Klux Klan.
While bigoted White folks aim to make us believe that they’re wholly invested in mining the insidious nature of the Black Lives Matter movement, their intentions are far more insincere. It isn’t about the pursuit of justice; it’s about normalizing and rationalizing violent White supremacy.
“How can you protest police shootings when Black people are acting outlandishly violent?”
“How can you protest the inequalities of mass incarceration when Black people can’t contain their inherent criminality?”
“How can you dare to stand up when you’re so ethnically flawed?”
And therein lies the dangerous, yet historically familiar problem with this bulls*** hashtag and the conversation surrounding it. It’s a propagation of America’s legacy of violent White supremacy. To take a singular act of criminality carried out by a Black person, and extrapolate it across the entire race and weaponize it as just cause for a violent “Whitelash” is a dismal aspect of African-American racial heritage.
Despite Hollywood’s oft-used characterization of lynchings as being an act carried out by hooded White men cloaked in the darkness of the night, the reality is that they were often conducted during the day as White family outings for adults and kids of all ages. The acts of terror received incredible press and came with a mountain of festivities. Depending on the size of the town or city, they could easily draw tens of thousands of White folks together to watch a Black body be whipped, strung up, castrated and burned. It was not uncommon for the revelers to leave with tokens from the day, including the charred and bloodied parts of the broken, burnt Black body.
This behavior is made possible when the Black victim is stripped of their humanity, and regarded as nothing more than a baseless animal with no place in a functional society. This behavior becomes logical when White folks can’t possibly fathom being considered equal to those they’ve been told, and now believe, aren’t fully human.
This attack on Black Lives Matter isn’t about anything other than convincing White society that Black liberation is less a cause for equality, and more about a violent hatred for White folks. The more White people believe that, the easier it is to frame equality as White oppression.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.