Believe in the Hashtag

When scrolling through my social media feed I see posts about how Black Lives Matter wants to “destroy the nuclear family” and attempts to discredit their leader. I see people fighting against an organization rather than fighting for equality. It’s infuriating.

You don’t have to stand with the organization to follow the hashtag.

Let’s start with context. The Black Lives Matter organization started in 2013 and stands firmly upon the idea of creating a world with no “anti-blackness”. Not only eradicating racism, but putting an end to everything that unfairly puts black people a step behind others. They move to “disrupt” the nuclear family structure by “supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another” (Black Lives Matter). This isn’t new! The western nuclear family is exclusive of its relatives, but many other cultures are inclusive of all relatives, with extended family often growing up in the same home.

#BlackLivesMatter or #BLM resurfaced in 2020 after George Floyd was unjustifiably murdered by a police officer. It took the world by storm, with other countries joining the U.S. in protesting Floyd’s injustice and the injustices of systemic racism. But the problem with a hashtag is finding clarity, finding a platform of specific issues to stand for. Here’s what #BLM means to me:

  1. Black Lives Matter. They shouldn’t matter more or less than any other race.
  2. Black lives do not currently hold as much value as white lives. This is because of systems put in place that have benefited the white majority, leaving black people in a cycle of poverty and oppression comparatively (Business Insider) A disproportionate amount of black people are:
    • Killed by police officers.
    • Imprisoned
      • Therefore unable to vote
      • In 2018 a black male aged 18-19 was 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white male of the same age
      • Three times as many black people are arrested for marijuana use, even though white and black populations use at a similar rate
    • Unemployed
    • Underrepresented in high-paying jobs and in the government
    • Making less annually than white men (overall income was 42% lower in 2018)
    • Receiving worse education. This is because non-white school districts on average receive less funding than white school districts, affecting the quality of education in minorities
  3. We are all responsible for contributing to the systems that inhibit black people from being equal. The first (and arguably most important) step is to recognize this.
  4. Recognizing your privilege does not make you anti-racism, actively fighting against racist constructs makes you anti-racism

#BlackLivesMatter is about equality. There is active inequality in this country that directly benefits white people while leaving black people and other minorities at a distinct disadvantage. Now that I’ve brought clarity to my beliefs, I can more effectively analyze Black Lives Matter as it sits today.

When I first heard of Black Lives Matter as a Marxist organization, I was confused as to why people thought of this as negative. As a literary scholar, Marxism at its core is about the oppressed rising to abolish the systems in place that keep them impoverished. It’s a terrifying thought to the powerful in our capitalist society, but it’s a liberating idea for those who are middle and lower class. Black Lives Matter is about making all people equal, regardless of race. They’re trying to start a revolution to change the systems that keep black people poor and white men rich. They’re certainly Marxist, but not to our detriment.

Systemic racism has found its way into all parts of life. Small businesses, large companies, health care, police and prison systems, education, entrepreneurship, music, television, sports, food, religion, banking, and so much more have all become compliant in systemic racism. Until every American cares about equality, it will remain unattainable.

#BlackLivesMatter

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