This might be a touchy subject. But it’s an important one.
In the past few years, we have heard more and more about unarmed black men being shot by the police. It seems every few weeks we see another incident in the news.
These incidents are tragic. They are unjust. As a matter of fact, they are the reason why the Black Lives Matter movement exists.
Black Lives Matter started when Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman in 2012. According to their website, Black Lives Matter is a “response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society.”
Since then, the organization has sought to bring national attention to the problem of unarmed shootings of black people by the police.
But, they are missing the point.
By focusing only on the black lives that are taken by police officers, they are essentially ignoring the thousands of black men and women who are killed by other black people.
Consider these facts:
- 93% of black murder victims were killed by black people.
- As of September 20th, 2016, 78% of homicide victims were black.
- In 2012, 6,000 black homicide victims were killed by other black people.
- Blacks make up 13% of the population but account for 50% of homicide victims.
- For every black homicide victim that is killed by a police officer, about 40 are killed by black people.
- Black people are about 8 times more likely to be the victims of homicide than white people.
If black lives really matter, it doesn’t make sense to focus only on the unarmed police shootings of black men. These incidents account for a relatively small number of black deaths when compared to the amount of black lives that have been lost to black-on-black crime.
So...why does Black Lives Matter only focus on police shootings?
Here’s Why Black Lives Matter Focuses Only On Police Shootings
Black Lives Matter’s objective is to make the nation aware of the injustice black people suffer at the hands of police.
And they should.
But here’s the problem: they are ignoring the real threat to the black community. Are black people more likely to be victims of unarmed shootings than any other race? Of course we are.
And it’s wrong.
But it’s also wrong to ignore the black lives that are destroyed by black people. These black lives don’t matter any less than the ones that are taken by law enforcement.
To be fair, Black Lives Matter has not been completely silent on this issue. Here is a quote from their website:
“However, those who insist on talking about black-on-black crime frequently fail to acknowledge that most crime is intraracial. Ninety-three percent of black murder victims are killed by other black people. Eighty-four percent of white murder victims are killed by other white people.”
Yes, it’s true. 84% of white murder victims are killed by other white people. But this point ignores the fact that white people make up 63% of the entire U.S. population. Black people make up 13% of the population, and yet we account for 50% of murders in the United States.
Simply put, intraracial homicides are hurting black people far more than white people.
But Black Lives Matter only wants to focus on black victims of unjust police shootings. In order to explain why, their website makes the following statement:
“The Black Lives Matter movement acknowledges the crime problem, but it refuses to locate that crime problem as a problem of black pathology. Black people are not inherently more violent or more prone to crime than other groups. But black people are disproportionately poorer, more likely to be targeted by police and arrested, and more likely to attend poor or failing schools. All of these social indicators place one at greater risk for being either a victim or a perpetrator of violent crime.”
This argument is problematic. The issue isn’t whether or not black people are “inherently more violent or more prone to crime than other groups.” The issue is the fact that black people make up half of the homicide victims nationwide while only representing 13% of the population. Most of these victims were killed by other black people.
Shouldn’t we be focusing on saving more black lives? Of course we should. But we’re not.
We get angry when we hear about cops shooting unarmed black people. We rage in the streets when we see an injustice that takes a black life. There are riots. Some of these riots are even encouraged by Black Lives Matter.
But...when we hear about shootings that involve a black offender and a black victim, we say “that’s a damn shame.” Then we forget about it and move on with our lives.
That’s the real problem. These lives matter too.
We can’t save more black lives by only focusing on unjust police shootings. When you look at the amount of black-on-black murders, the numbers of black people being killed by police don’t even compare.
If All Black Lives Don’t Matter, No Black Lives Matter
The truth is that the lives of black victims of unjust police shootings are not more valuable than those that were killed by their own people. If the black community really wants to make a difference, we need to focus on our own issues. We need to be willing to address our own internal problems, rather than just looking for someone else to blame.
Here’s another quote from the Black Lives Matter website:
“The continued focus on black-on-black crime is a diversionary tactic, whose goal is to suggest that black people don’t have the right to be outraged about police violence in vulnerable black communities, because those communities have a crime problem.”
Yes, I know that there are some people who bring up black-on-black crime in order to divert from the issue of unjust police shootings. But it doesn’t mean that black-on-black crime should be ignored.
There is so much outrage when there is an unarmed police shooting. But why aren’t we outraged when we kill our own?
Chicago has one of the highest murder rates in the country. It’s so bad that the President has said he’s willing to get the federal government involved. But most of the black people killed in Chicago were killed by black people.
Where are the protests? Where is the outrage? Don’t these black lives matter too?
Here’s the cold reality, if unjust police shootings stopped overnight, it wouldn’t make a huge difference to the black community. We would still be killing each other. Black families would still be suffering the loss of brothers, cousins, fathers, and uncles.
We are the only ones that can make a difference. Ignoring the tragedy of black-on-black crime is only going to make the problem worse. We cannot move forward unless we are willing to address the real issues in our community.
If all black lives don’t matter, no black lives matter.