White People: Get Behind Black Lives Matter, not in front of it

The murder of Alton Sterling today has once again stirred up the anger of a whole community, and the depth of feeling is clear even over social media. 558 murders in police custody in the past year, with black lives being on the line at an alarming rate. As a Catholic-raised Nationalist growing up in Northern Ireland, I am no stranger to police brutality aimed at one group and empathise with the cause. More importantly, as a decent human being, my heart breaks for the families of the victims whose death penalty was determined by their race.

For me, it is slightly different - where I live, it was religion that divided us and stopped my community from advancing adequately. For white Americans, you must recognise that it is race that is the kicker and you must not be part of the problem. The "race card" doesn't exist; please stop reducing black people calling out racism to a power play tactic.

I will no longer be accepting the excuse that you personally are not racist. It simply is not enough to be "not racist". We must stand alongside the movement and detract from the problem. Staying silent while a white family member, friend or neighbour make passing racist comments, not openly condemning police brutality and doing nothing except claiming you're not racist implicate you just as much as a racist bigot. It's easy for anyone to say "I'm not racist!" - this may well be. However, regardless of your personal moral standing, there is a bigger war on race happening: the war on white privilege within the system. Slavery is long over and yet African Americans are still wearing chains.

First and foremost, scrap the ideas of reverse racism. It's a phrase that makes me shudder with the simplicity of it; if someone makes fun of me because of my race, then it is reverse racism. Let me ask you this: has racism ever been that simple? If you aren't in the KKK, does that make you a model citizen? Did those who allowed black people to sit alone in "colored" spots during segregation deserve none of the blame? By claiming that reverse racism is real you are negating the disadvantage that every black man and woman is faced with in today's America. You are claiming that we as white people can experience the same kind of brutality and barriers based on our race. You are ignorant to the terrible history and existing reality that is the deep set divisions between black, minority and white.

Bigger than this, please stop supporting your "idols" if they do not care about black and minority lives. It is more than distasteful; it is dangerous to give people who are bigoted a platform. I recently stopped lusting after Jeffree Star after his blatant racism became apparent, and will do so to every celebrity, politician or journalist who does not speak out. More than supporting BLM, we must openly criticise those who do not support it. The "all lives matter" movement should be called out for what it is too - a farce, an ignorance and a disgrace. This movement is not about white people and it never will be.

Mr Sterling's tragic murder says much about our institutions, but reactions to it says all about why these institutions are still in place. The excuses for the police, including the circumstances of arrest, often trumped condolences for the family. The circumstances of the arrest should not matter to you if you are truly as American as you say, as it should be protected under your "unalienable" constitution. If he was carrying a weapon. he is protected under your Second Amendment. He should have been arrested and taken to trial, like your due process rights make clear. It is bloody ridiculous that it is a white luxury to be arrested without being killed.

Go, tweet your feelings and your anger. Tell the world of the ridiculous nature of the American justice system, of the police. Support black people on moving forward and remove yourself from the problem. Educate your kids, your siblings, your parents. You should be nothing but an ally to the movement, ready to get behind your black sisters and brothers. The movement is strong and moving and has reduced me to tears at the strength of the incredible men and women within it, and their ability to overcome all that comes their way, but there is still much to do. Let's not lose sight, and let's not push ourselves to the front of the fight. We are merely supporters, a shoulder to lean on. Black people will lead their movement to justice, and we must simply move from the darkness of the problem into the light of the solution.

Alton Sterling, we see you and we love you. We will never stop making the plight of black lives known. Black lives will ALWAYS matter to us.


  1. Katrina: glad I was able to read this just before the UN Observation for Tolerance [16 November 2017].

    And yes!


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