Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter

The Reaction to Black Lives Matter Is a White Lie


The dominant reaction to Black Lives Matters from middle-class white people who aren’t actively racist seems to be “I support them, but I don’t approve of their tactics”. Really? What tactics? Holding protests? Blocking roads? Showing up at political meetings and making themselves heard?

Black Lives Matter is a non-violent movement. They actively work to take the anger about police violence and channel it into non-violent protest and political action. Remember the riots after the Rodney King verdict? One of the reasons that there were not riots after the Philando Castile verdict is Black Lives Matter. They protested. They were angry (and they should be). They worked to direct that anger to passive resistance and protest rather than violence and riots.

The other common reaction is “I understand their anger, but the police have a hard job…”. This is probably the greatest flaw in the whole debate: the false dichotomy between supporting the police and supporting Black Lives Matter. You can say “I support police officers”, and say, “police should not be killing this many innocent people”. Many Black Lives Matter members say both. The problem is that not enough police officers, politicians, and middle-class white people will say both.

The choice is not between “trashing the police” and “accepting some unfortunate accidents”. The choice is between “demanding changes to laws, police training, and police practices to minimize unnecessary death and violence” and “allowing more unnecessary and tragic deaths to occur without consequence”.

The white lie is that Black Lives Matter is a radical and dangerous movement, and that we cannot curb police violence against people of color without endangering the police. It is not a “little white lie”, meaning a harmless lie. It is a big white lie, meaning a lie perpetuated be white politicians and police advocates to scare people and undermine the Black Lives Matter movement. That lie is perpetuated through the media, and absorbed by white people who are not truly racist, but who are culturally biased enough to be susceptible to seeing black people as making trouble rather than fighting for their lives. It is a passive racism, and a lot of decent, otherwise caring people are guilty of it.

In truth, by directly the anger against police violence to non-violent protest, Black Lives Matter is protecting middle-class America from riots and revenge attacks against white people and police.

Consider the weight of the two sides of the issue: innocent people killed without consequence due to poor training versus protests and blocked traffic. Really, which of these things should people be angry about?

Here are some facts from the Philando Castile killing that don’t get much attention:

  • Officer Yanez, the officer shot and killed Castile, attended a police training class by Dave Grossman called “Bullet Proof Warrior”. Grossman refers to his training as “Killology”. The goal of the class is to make police officers more like soldiers or warriors. Videos of the class show Grossman describing police killing someone on the job as a “perk” that officers should enjoy. This training is standard for St. Anthony police officers, and is said to be the most popular police training course in the country.
  • The St, Anthony community had previously complained about Officer Yanez for being violent, but these complaints were ignored.
  • Activists say that the St. Anthony police consider the southern border of the three communities they serve a defense point against crime from the cities, and actively racially profile people in this area. Data analysis shows that the St. Anthony police pull over people of color for petty violations several times more than they do white people, and that those petty offense traffic stops are the source of most situations of excessive force.
  • St. Anthony offered Officer Yanez a mutual separation agreement rather than firing him. Because of this, Yanez will keep his pension. More importantly, it makes it easier for Yanez to be hired by another police department. Supposedly, Yanez already has job offers. Seriously? Who can watch the video of Yanez shooting Castile (linked below) and say, “I want that officer working in my community”?

Are you mad, disgusted, or concerned yet? If not, how many innocent people must die? If yes, then go work with Black Lives Matter. You won’t find a bunch of violent black radicals. You will find a lot of enlightened and caring activists.