The movement, launched in 2013 with #blacklivesmatter, is growing with chapters scattered across the nation. From Black Lives matter to our lives matter, blue lives matter, all lives matter. Some have seen it as similar to the civil rights movement of the sixties. Even the presidential candidates are being made to take notice of this movement. It also shows law enforcement negatively caught and still to adjust to the pervading power of social media.
The Trevon Martin killing and the resulting court ruling, the chokehold death of Eric Garner, shooting of Michael Brown, and other victims, are fuelling the growth of this grassroots movement. Some say “what has been going on for a long time is coming to light”. And the movement is fuelled by “anger against injustice, racism, and brutality.
It is also pointed out that in almost every area of society, black Americans remain disadvantaged. So, while Black Lives Matter is focused to bring an end to “police brutality”, it can aim at more lasting change for education, employment, and the gun culture. The wave of protests represents a new consciousness, which needs to be channeled positively to achieve a more just society.
While the anger being expressed in these protests is understandable, it shouldn’t be an excuse for violence and lawlessness seen in some cases. It also shouldn’t ignore the need to make black lives matter to black lives and it shouldn’t be an excuse to demonize the police based on some incidents of violence or racial profiling. It is also no reason to disregard the wisdom and a more sober approach of the elders of the earlier civil rights movement.
The energy of the growing consciousness can be channeled into more genuine and lasting change, an evolution to a better more conscious society. That change has to grow from within, not imposed from outside, based on a show of inner strength rather than display of violence.
The authority of the police comes with the responsibility to serve and protect, not opportunity to kill. In order to receive the service and protection, black lives, all lives, must be law abiding. While it protests the loss of black lives at the hands of police the movement must ensure that black lives obey the law and make lives matter. If the last part is missing then success for the movement would be elusive.
President Obama said Trevon Martin could have been him thirty-five years ago. He said this because his circumstances then may have been similar to Martin. The system then might have been less tolerant than it is today. It didn’t happen to him then, why should it happen today. We should be getting better not worst.
This may point to deeper problem which needs a deeper solution. While the movement keeps its focus on protesting and making the judicial system work in a just manner, it should also recognize it can make black lives matter in a more meaningful way. Create the awareness of the inner power to make life matter.
It is easier to blame others for our misfortune rather than reflect on the lesson to be learned to do differently or be better to avoid a repeat. Ignore the lessons of the deaths and they will continue to happen. We need to recognize that change starts within. The inner desire to be better and do better is where it starts.
An inner evolution will give life value and make it matter. It is an individual responsibility which will form a new collective consciousness. If the black lives matter movement ignores the importance of positive, responsible behaviors, then black lives matter would achieve very little.
Written by Arthur Foater
Anna Prepmeyer, “Collective Consciousness” csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/collectiveconsciousness
Elizabeth Day, “#BlackLivesMatter: the birth of a new civil rights movement” The Guardian, July 19, 2015