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Facebook is not only a good platform for keeping up with old friends, but it also lets you see who from high school has turned into a biased asshole based on their blatantly racist and problematic posts. I use this as a special filtration system for weeding out and de-friending bigoted jerks. The other day as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, deleting zealots and whispering to myself (in an eerily spot-on DJ Khaled impression) “anotha one,” I noticed that someone had reposted something from a page called “Blue Lives Matter.”
Oh no, I thought to myself, please do not tell me that this is what I think it is. I clicked on the page, giving it the benefit of doubt and hoping maybe it was a campaign for the Na’vi people of Avatar. It was not.
Blue Lives Matter started as a campaign in Canada dedicated to cops with PTSD and those who have given their lives in the line of duty. Despite its foreign origins the page has expanded to over 521,840 likes on Facebook and spread quickly throughout the United States. This campaign is inherently problematic because it has appropriated the name of the Black Lives Matter movement in an extremely paradoxical and frustrating manner.
No one is denying the value of police officers’ lives; however, I am denying their right to use the dichotomy of a movement that has been so severely and deeply harmed by police forces. The Black Lives Matter movement was created as a response to the overwhelming amount of devastation that police brutality and systematic racism have caused in America’s black communities. If you need receipts take a look at the statistics.
The value of the lives of police officers is not being diminished. However, the American law enforcement system has consistently devalued black lives.
Yes police officers die in the line of duty. Yes it is tragic. However, it is entirely inappropriate to compare this to the epidemic of minorities being killed for NO REASON by police officers. When a police officer dies they are given a funeral honored by the state. But when a victim like Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, or Tamir Rice are indefensibly murdered, they are instead criminalized, shown far less respect, and so often have their deaths justified by the media. They were a thug. They shouldn’t have broken the law. It’s their own fault. This language never surrounds the death of a cop. Cops as a group have not been systematically oppressed by a government that once acknowledged them as property. Cops do not have terrorist movements dedicated to their extinction (KKK I’m looking at you). Cops are not widely discriminated based on unwarranted stereotypes. Cops are not being killed every 8 hours.
(Don’t worry Blue Lives Matter posts things like this for us that are outraged)
Starting to get the idea? The fact that black people have had to create a platform in order to voice to the world that they are tired of being needlessly killed speaks volumes. Even more frustrating is that a police force reacted NOT by admitting prejudice or working towards improved conduct, but by creating a reactionary movement. This speaks to how flawed the Blue Lives Matter campaign is. This movement, that claims cops are being oppressed and underappreciated, only arose when their own victims began to protest. I wouldn’t consider asking not to be shot disrespectful toward the police.
(People on the page so often refer to Black Lives Matter protesters in language far more derogatory than in the above image from their site)
The immaturity and tastelessness of this movement is reminiscent of a 3 year old pouting at some other kids birthday party because they don’t have any gifts to open : (. To compare a movement born out of tragedy to a birthday party seems vastly trivializing, but it appears that movements like Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter feel as if they are being left out of some trend. It is not a trend, it is a tragedy that black people have had to face since the birth of the United States. By ignoring the Black Lives Matter movement and instead shouting “All lives matter,” you are simply erasing a voice that has been fighting to be heard for decades. You are failing to check your privilege. You are telling black people to shut up. You are telling them once more that their lives must take a back seat to everyone else’s.
Organizations that support those facing PTSD and honor law enforcement casualties are crucial. It is important to fight for causes you believe in. However, if your chosen cause uses appropriation and aggression as a vehicle for its purpose, check yourself. This isn’t an issue of plagiarism, it is an issue of creating a community that appears to stand in opposition to Black Lives Matter. Simply scrolling through the Blue Lives Matter’s Facebook you only have to read the comments to see how negatively its supporters view Black Lives Matter. There is a danger in connecting hateful people with other hateful people that only further justify their narrow-minded views. The site may have been created with good intentions but it has developed into an alliance that undermines and belittles Black Lives Matter’s overall cause.
If you would like to do something about the fact that the Black Lives Matter movement is being misappropriated by an overwhelmingly white police force in order to make money, I invite you to sign this petition.