If you’re like me, you’re probably a bit overwhelmed by all of the information circulating about Black Lives Matter (BLM). You might even be skeptical or disdainful of the group and their tactics.
I hear many people say that this movement would cause Martin Luther King, Jr. to “turn in his grave”. Others say that the movement is a “disgrace,” and accuse it of causing the “racial divide” that we see in America.
Unfortunately, the Black Lives Matter movement gets a lot of bad publicity. Sometimes, organization members are shown chanting a violent phrase. Other times, the media shows them being arrested. Either way, BLM is rarely shown in a positive light.
As a result, many have uneasy feelings towards this movement. Others feel this movement should be labeled as “terrorism”. In fact, recently a petition was filed asking the government to formally recognize the BLM as a terrorist organization!
Below you will find a few specific myths about this movement. The myths will be followed by factual information about the organization. I hope the debunking of these myths will bring peace and understanding to the BLM skeptic. Further, I hope this list can be a tool for BLM supporters to better explain the organization’s goals and platforms in a clear and succinct way.
Myth #1: Black Lives Matter encourages racial division
Unfortunately, America is built upon a pretty steep slope of white supremacy. Even more unfortunate is the truth that Black people sit at the bottom of this very steep slope. Ultimately, race effects every way that American society works. Yet, we are taught not to talk about race. This is called being “colorblind”. However, being colorblind is equivalent to having a gaping wound in your leg and hoping that if you ignore it, it will just go away!
The result of America’s “colorblind” mentality is that talking about race is now taboo. Yet, Black Lives Matter actively breaks this taboo by boldly bringing American’s racial issues into the light.
BLM is saying, “hey America, there is a HUGE racial hole in our system, let’s talk about that”.
Unfortunately, out of fear, people misconstrue how vocal BLM is about racial issues as a way of making it worse. However, this is not true. In fact, bringing America’s racial issues to the forefront is step one in a long healing process.
Myth 2: Black Lives Matter strays from the Civil Rights Movement
We tend to view history with rose-colored glasses. Somehow with time and historical distance, we have forgotten just how contentious the Civil Right’s Movement proved to be.
This historical amnesia is largely a result of biased media coverage of the Civil Rights Movement. Often times, Martin Luther King Jr. and his message are glamorized. The media has created him into fake figurehead. MLK Jr.’s life is presented as if his message was completely accepted by Black and white America. Meanwhile, much of the violence and death that Black people experienced while participating in the Civil Rights Movement is hidden.
Ultimately, this glamorization of the Civil Rights Movement as a non-violent, non-confrontational social justice campaign is manipulative, and historically inaccurate.
In reality, people’s responses to the Civil Right’s Movement and BLM are not so different. Fighting for justice and equality is never a task that will make one popular.
Myth 3: Black Lives Matter is an aimless group
BLM is the first major social justice movement of the digital age. This allows for both information and misinformation about the group to travel very quickly.
Because so many people are talking about the organization non-stop, we can sometimes forget that the movement contains a plethora of leadership. BLM was founded by three black women. However, the movement has now expanded astronomically. The movement now has multiple small chapters around the nation which are composed of local leaders and community members. There are also big-name affiliates such as Shaun King.
Myth 4: Black Lives Matter is a Terrorist Organization
In America the word “terrorist” is generally used to describe groups that threaten American safety. “Terrorist” also signifies that a group is “other”. By “other” I mean that “terrorist” implies that a group is not of American values and thus threatens American ways of life.
However, the way in which American use the word “terrorist” is very selective. The KKK, a hateful and violent group, has never been labeled a terrorist organization. However, Black Lives Matters has been labeled a terrorist group. This reveals that both implicitly and explicitly we align whiteness with being “American”. Our idea that “white” means “American” is so ingrained that even when white groups are promoting violence, we do not label them “terrorist.”
Thus the fact that people think that Black Lives Matter (a group that in no way promotes violence) threatens American well-being illustrates just how deep the racial wounds of America are.
It is not un-American to criticize America’s treatment of Black people. Quite the contrary, critiquing America’s actions towards minority populations represents one important way to better the country. Creating a better America is the most pro-America action in which one can participate!
Changing Our Perspective
Discussions about BLM (and race in general) can be dense and overwhelming. I studied America’s race relations in college, and I still find myself drowning in information everyday. Nonetheless, critically looking at the purpose of BLM and discussing their platforms is really important.
With some research, and patience, one is able to find that this group is really legitimate. And, further, that this organization has a well-informed leadership and concrete plans to aid both Black Americans and America as a whole.
I think we should give BLM some grace and acknowledge that they are doing really tough work with not a lot of support.