op-ed: every argument against “black lives matter” broken down to its molecular bullshit

November 9, 2016

Recently there has been a contingent of moderate voices, conservatives, New Negroes and outright racists making the case that the Black Lives Matter movement, and especially the phrase, should be either silenced or done away with altogether. They present varied reasons for their pushback, and just for the sake of time and saving data rates, we have compiled them here, along with the reasons each argument is total bullshit.

By Michael Harriott/NegusWhoRead, AFROPUNK Contributor*

It Makes People Anti-Cop: The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is not really a response to whites who kill Black people. It is a response to whites killing Black people and getting away with it. George Zimmerman wasn’t even arrested for a month after murdering an unarmed 15-year old. Darren Wilson wasn’t even tried for shooting Mike Brown.

You know what else makes people anti-cop? Shooting innocent women in the facePumping over 137 bullets into a car of an unarmed couple. If law enforcement officers enforced the law equally and without prejudice, screaming Black Lives Matter at a prison dance next to a Black Panther Rally wouldn’t even raise a pulse.

It Has Become too Divisive – There are reasonable people who contend that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” has become too divisive. They say the American mainstream views it as too militant and anti-white, so even though there are good intentions, it automatically turns people off.

Here is the thing: There has never been a movement started by an underclass that has been accepted by the mainstream. Not the abolitionist movementNot the Black Power movementNot even the civil rights movement. If Black people crafted a response to racism and violence based on how the majority of white people felt, it would look like brown skinned toddlers on bended knee wearing knickerbockers begging passersby if they could “please spare a little bit of that freedom, sir?” 

White Lives/All Lives Matter Too – This argument is so narcissistic that it is almost the textbook illustration of white privilege. The simple affirmation of the value of Black lives is so egregious in the minds of some people that not mentioning White people is an offense in and of itself. Therefore – in their egocentric logic – “Black Lives Matter” must really have an unsaid, silent “only” prefacing it. Thus, the need for “White Lives Matter.” Using the sound logic of the “All Lives Matter” argument we should also shut down the divisive insidiousness of Breast Cancer walks because they ignore prostate cancer and leukemia. All cancers matter, right?

The truth is, anyone who says “White Lives Matter” really means “Fuck Black Lives” because there are only three facts in the history of America that are not in dispute:
George Bush really doesn’t care about black people
Dez Bryant caught that ball
White lives definitely matter.

Stop Resisting When Cops Tell You to Do Something: You’re right. Everyone should cooperate with any person telling them to do something when that person is holding a gun in their hand. It makes common sense and preserves life. BUT – and there is a very big “but” here – the penalty for disobeying a “lawful order” isn’t death. If we are a nation of laws then the true individual liberties people so often tout means that every citizen has the choice between lawfulness and the punishment for lawlessness. If there is a segment of society for whom officers are the judge and jury – then they aren’t “law enforcement” officers by definition.

Besides, there are certain biological reactions that one can’t control – like 16-year old muscles tightening when threatened with violence, or trying to breathe when being choked.

Plus, have you ever seen the multitude of YouTube videos of caucasians talking smack while carrying loaded weapons on the street (and living to tell the tale) or asserting their rights during traffic stops? African Americans aren’t privy to those same protections. I know, I know. We are all constitutionally guaranteed the same protection under the law, but Black men are said to be resisting with deadly force when running away from officers pointing guns at them. Just ask Walter Scott. Just ask Johnathan Ferrell.

There is a great series of videos that inform law-abiding citizens of what to do when stopped by the police, but just so you know, the phrase “law abiding citizen” is correctly pronounced:

“ˈwīt ˈpē-pəl”

All Cops Aren’t Bad Cops Everyone knows that all cops aren’t bad cops, but the opposing arguers are always loathe to admit that it is statistically impossible for every single law enforcement agency to employ a work force that is 100% capable and 0% corrupt, which means, conversely, that there must be at least the possibility that bad cops exist.

Studies show that people who live in minority and poor neighborhoods are statistically more likely to be the victims of crime, which means the people in these neighborhoods are more dependent on law enforcement for their safety and well-being. It is easy to dismiss the existence of a “small minority” of bad policemen when you live in safe suburbs and don’t need them to protect your life, property or safety. The reason Black populations are so adamant about highlighting corruption in law enforcement and neighborhood policing is because they are the ones who depend on law enforcement and neighborhood policemen. Many of the detractors of the Black Lives Matter movement are the equivalent of vegetarians trying to goad people into eating rotting horsemeat by saying “Well, some of it is good.”

No one thinks all cops are bad, but it is stupid to think that no cops are bad. When asked if I think most cops are bad, I always respond by saying:

“Do you remember that time when good cops went out of their way to expose their fellow cops for corrupt and illegal practices?”


It’s Not About Race Except for those pesky things called Facts. ProPublica recently reported on a study that showed Black male teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by police officers than their male counterparts, and the geeky, numbers-based site FiveThirtyEight evaluated numbers that revealed that 41 percent of unarmed people shot by law enforcement officers over the past two years were Black, even though they were only 14 percent of the population.

Why don’t you address the problem with Black On Black Crime? I intentionally saved this one for last, because everyone from the loudmouth-trying-to-disguise-polysyllability-as-intelligence, ESPN-version-of-Al Sharpton, new negro Stephen A. Smith to Rudy Giuliani to Richard Sherman to KKK leaders have voiced this opinion.

Let’s be clear: There is no such thing as Black-On-Black Crime. It is a catch phrase. A trope. Almost all victims of violent crime are victimized by someone they know. White people hurt White people and Black people commit crimes against Black people. Almost every study shows the biggest predictors of violence are socioeconomic status and the relative segregation of the offenders’ neighborhoods.  When white men shoot up movie theaters or college campuses, it is never categorized as “White-on-white crime” even though 84% of the white victims of murder are killed by white people. Even though 53% of gang related murders are committed by whites.

Furthermore, the notion that Black people are sitting around contently shrugging their shoulders while dodging bullets is not just a fallacy – it’s stupid. The phrase “Stop the violence” is much older and far more ubiquitous in the lexicon of African American communities than “Black Lives Matter.” There are songs about it. There are organizations dedicated to solving it. There are far more marches for it than police violence. It has endured since the 80’s urging Black people to stop committing violent acts against their brothers. Those who raise this argument either don’t care to know, are liars pushing the argument for their own agenda or they are so disconnected from these communities that their voices are invalid anyway.

So the next time someone raises one of these arguments, cyberslap them with this article and inform them of the ultimate reason:

Even if you vehemently object to, or disagree with, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” –

It doesn’t really matter.

*Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot