Ras Olugbenga

Do Black Lives Matter? Part I of II

Ras Olugbenga
Do Black Lives Matter? Part I of II

Do black lives matter? No, really, do they? Are black people expendable? Let’s ask Michael Brown’s family. In case you forgot, Michael Brown was murdered in August of 2014 by officer Darren Wilson of St. Louis, MO. Brown’s murder helped spark protests morphing the popularity of the National Black Lives Matter movement into what it is today. Some say Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a millennial extension of the civil/human rights movement of the 1960’s. However, BLM is a political platform and proclamation of collective humanity. In my opinion, we should not require an explanation on whether or not lives matter regardless of race during 2016. Yet, sadly it does. Almost two years ago, Michael Brown was shot on a hot summer street. Charles Kinsey, unlike Mike Brown, was shot on the street under similar circumstances but survived.

On July 16, 2016, cameras caught Kinsey lying on his back, hands raised overhead, yet and still, a Miami police officer shot him. Kinsey, still conscious and bleeding, had the rare opportunity to ask officer Jonathan Aledda “why did you shoot me?” While placing handcuffs on Kinsey’s bleeding body, officer Aledda replied, “I don’t know”. He said I don’t know. He did not say I felt threatened, rather a terse and wholly unacceptable “I don’t know”. Is the evidence of an insidious and endemic problem within the American psyche while supporting the notion that some people need to hear the common sense statement “Black Lives Matter”? Only toddlers can genuinely reply “I don’t know” when asked why they have engaged in mischief, but a sworn officer of the law should at least possess the mental acuity to know why they enacted lethal force.

 

Korryn Gaines, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown did not survive the murderous and egregious use of police authority. Ironically, history proves Crispus Attucks, an unarmed black man shot and killed by the police that catalyzed the American Revolutionary War. Is this proof of Black lives mattering? Being taken by police through force is dated back to the birth of America. When will this issue ever change?  

To be completely clear, this article is not bashing the police or the American Justice System. The problem is taking a life is wrong. Killing someone is not the answer. When is it fair to be another person's judge, jury, and executioner at the same time? Humans are entitled to a fair and just trial. Not an immediate execution because of a temporary lapse in judgment. Black lives matter just like all lives do. But, to get beyond this issue with outsiders killing people of color, we must look at the blood on our own hands. As a man of color, I speak for all black men. If we kill us, why can’t they? Remember, there are many ways to die.

For instance, a nameless canonized by the media is Henry Griffin. It’s likely you have even seen Henry’s photo circulating on social media, but not for being murdered by police. Henry’s fame sprang from a story detailing how an inner-city teen from Cleveland, OH won the first international robotics championship. As a leader on his robotics team, Henry was a champion in every sense of the word.  Less than 2 weeks after Henry was shown crying tears of joy on media outlets across the world, his life was cut short. Henry died from an asthma attack.

All lives matter. People die from asthma every year, as well as from other health related diseases caused by poor medical treatment. How often do you see your primary care physician? We as Americans are killing ourselves every day in more ways than one. Taking pride in living a healthy lifestyle will definitely help stop this problem. Hillary Clinton agrees and acknowledged black children are 500 times more likely to die from asthma than their white counterparts. 500 more times. Diabetes; asthma; sarcoidosis; lung cancer; high blood pressure; and other health issues are extremely common in the black community. Conservatives and liberals alike have fallen short when constructing solutions for the “Henry’s” of urban America. But, to the chagrin of conservative apologists, Henry Griffin had both parents in his life, contrary to the absent black parent stereotype. Henry was a star student and athlete, with an abundance of opportunities within his grasp.


To see things for what they are and not what you would have them to be, is a philosophy of understanding that seeks to replace fallacious flights of fancy for sobering reality. When we see things for what they are, in terms of “Black Lives”. Removing all ideas, dealing solely in heuristics, one must logically conclude, Black Lives do not Matter. Failing public school systems, lack of generational assets, food deserts, contaminated drinking water, etc; all show evidence of all lives not mattering, solidifying my point. Ailments which account for black people dying in more ways than one at twice the rate of whites. After years of social struggles and movements and concessions from racial integration, African-American millennials don’t know what else to say besides “Black Lives Matter”. Honestly, I don’t know what else can be said either.