All lives matter, yes, even black lives
Black Lives Matter has valid concerns, and I am going to state up front that I totally concur… in the US, and maybe even in Canada, black people are killed by police at a rate that is disproportionate with their numbers in the general population. That implies a level of systemic racism, and I won’t deny that. That is all true and I accept it as fact.
However, BLM misses the point on some key issues that are critical to solving the problem. There are people suggesting that “All Lives Matter” is unfair. They’re comparing it to firemen watering a neighbour’s house while yours burns, or suggesting that if All Lives Matter, it discounts the value of black lives. Neither the analogy nor the assumption are correct. BLM does not lead to a solution, it merely exacerbates the problem, and I’ll explain why.
If we wave a magic wand tomorrow, and all police killings of black people stopped immediately, the police-induced carnage would still be legendary. In real numbers, police kill a LOT of people. That they kill black people too, is a symptom of the problem – and a particularly sucky symptom since it is demonstrable that some level of racism is clearly affecting who gets killed. Nevertheless, plenty more non-black people get killed than black people. The real first problem that has to be dealt with is WHY ARE POLICE KILLING SO MANY POEPLE? Fix that problem and the numbers of black people being killed absolutely will decline, and that itself is one of the goals of BLM. But if you fix just the killing of black people, you’re not really solving the problem of why so many people are killed… you’re just making it dangerous for other people.
A lot of effort is being spent trying to figure out why there are so many racist asshole cops making life-and-death decisions. Nobody seems to be asking the question “Why are increasingly militarized police forces killing so many people all the time?” This is the thrust of “All Lives Matter”, and dammit, it’s the real issue. Solve this problem, and less black people will die, guaranteed. The wild west/guns blazing approach has to stop, because as long as this is the way of things, then it’s really a situation of “no lives matter.” BLM seems to miss this important point. When someone counters BLM with “all lives matter”, they’re not discounting black lives, they’re saying “The police kill too many people, period.” This is the real issue.
Now let’s assume we’ve got the level of killings down to the dullest reasonable roar. The next issue is: minorities, particularly blacks, are killed at higher rates than others. There are questions that must be asked about the reasons for this. The first and foremost of which is “Are more <minority> committing crimes, proportionally, than others?” Suggesting this will be met by accusations of racism, but it is a valid question that must be explored. If it’s true, there are reasons for it: likely social and economic reasons that must be fixed. This will be a tough pill to swallow because some of that aforementioned systemic racism manifests itself in those socio-economic conditions that lead to more encounters with police. Force people to the margins of society and you create criminals. That’s always the way it works. Fixing this should minimize the number of encounters with police. Minimal police encounters means minimal police killings. This should also be a goal of BLM that they seem to miss.
Of course, racism needs to be weeded out of the police. People with the power of life and death have to be as unfailingly fair as humanly possible. That’s a tough ask for sure, but it is absolutely necessary. I really don’t know how this can be done. Every single person has biases entrenched so deep they may not be aware of them. Certainly, the overt ones need to be dealt with swiftly on the police forces. BLM concentrates on this area, it is important, and can be worked on in parallel with the other two, but the other two are truly the biggest issue. Save lives – including black lives – by cutting down on the killings in general and addressing the root causes of police encounters. That’s what “All Lives Matter” is about.
Only violent criminals should need to worry about being killed by police.