Some poor, confused minds are completely misinterpreting the Black Lives Matter movement in their approach and reaction to the terrorist violence in Paris that killed at least 129 and injured 352 last Friday in an attack immediately claimed by ISIS.
The world is standing shoulder to shoulder with Paris by sending their condolences and support. Facebook has even turned on its “safe” function, so people in Paris can let their loved ones know that they’re safe. Additionally, users can filter their profile picture with the Paris flag as an act of solidarity. However, even in such tragic times, not everyone is down with the support. I know this because I was called a coon on my own Facebook post for showing my support.
I’m painfully aware of my identity as a Black man. I don’t have the privilege to not see color or race. I’m consistently reminded that I can’t just see the human race because of flat out racism, daily racial microaggressions, or other actions that insinuate I’m not considered human. But none of that means I forget about my own humanity when it comes to tragedy that happens to people who don’t look like me. I don’t know how many Black and Brown people were victims of the Paris terrorist attacks. It doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, someone’s loved one doesn’t have one. Somebody’s mom, sister, father, girlfriend, or close friend isn’t coming home tonight. In this particular circumstance horror knows no color.
You think ISIS or any other terrorist militant group gives a damn about Black Lives Matter? Nope. Their only concern is taking lives, Black or White, as it delivers on their agenda. Al-Shabaab made that very clear when they attacked Garissa University in Kenya, leaving 147 dead in April.
Black Lives Matter is not anti-White, It’s about acknowledging the humanity of Black people, our treatment as humans, and due process. It’s also about empathy with a call to action for support. Racism is an evil, arrogant institution, but that doesn’t mean we as Black people have to pay it forward with ambivalence to tragedies that don’t necessarily affect our community. Support should never be community or race exclusive.
One of the reasons the Civil Rights Movement was so successful was because White people were marching hand in hand with Black folks. Even still, anger and outrage isn’t just black and white, it’s layered with hurt and sprinkled with a bunch of what the f****.
Judging from my Facebook news feed, you would’ve thought it was the French Revolution all over again. Friends from around the world filtered their profile Facebook pictures with France’s flag. This slight gesture showed France that we’re here, we care, and acknowledge their tragedy. However, such social media efforts were very limited, if present all, for Beirut, Kenya, and Lebanon’s tragedies at the hands of terrorists.
First and foremost, this isn’t an international tragedy contest. Lives lost are lives lost. So, criticism and critique shouldn’t 100% be placed on those who show their support. Facebook should be charged with offering the same digital support for other tragedies that strike non- European countries. The media should also be acting as a watchdog for non-European countries, so the public is consistently updated when terrorists target these countries. The same strategies and tactics social media entities such as Facebook and media outlets execute in support of tragedies around European countries should be applied to non- European countries as well.
But this is why we need the Black Lives Matter movement.
We need Black Lives Matter because we’re told that our lives don’t matter either through legislation that often targets Black lives, the arbitrary dueling out of justice against Black lives, and the lack of support from non-Black people concerning Black lives. Just because some people and institutions never showed their humanity for Black lives doesn’t mean I lose mine for other people. I cried when that monster, another terrorist, murdered nine people during prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. My heart sank when I found out Trayvon Martin wasn’t even 18 when he was murdered. I thought of my now 7-year-old nephew when Adam Lanza took people’s kids away from them. And now, I’m praying for Paris. People can continue to be racially exclusive with their support and ignore Black lives, but I will never let this world change my heart or my humanity and you shouldn’t either.