Have you seen it?
According to the laws of physics and the principles of nature, nothing disappears into thin air, so it must be around here somewhere. It was too big and loud to fall between the couch cushions or hide in the closet, so someone must have stolen it. Someone must have found a way to silence it. I know there were a lot of people who wished it would evaporate into the ether or slowly fizzle out, but I’m sure it can’t be all gone.
What happened to Black Lives Matter?
Barely a year ago, #BlackLivesMatter was on the tip of almost every tongue in the country. It caused such a commotion that America had no choice but to take notice. Whether they supported it or hated it, everyone had an opinion of it. It led the evening news. It popped up in every social media feed. They argued about it on SportsCenter. Have you seen it lately? I know it hasn’t gone anywhere.
Don’t reduce its existence to a simple hashtag, because it was more than that. It was a living, breathing thing. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I saw it at football games kneeling during the national anthem. I saw it change the entire municipal structure of the city of Ferguson, Mo. I watched it strut onstage at halftime of the Super Bowl. It strong-armed police departments into buying body cameras. It showed up at presidential debates and awards shows. It fueled conversations in every corner of the country about how America treated black bodies.
But lately, my friends don’t talk about it as much. Is it dead? Is it asleep? Have we lost interest? Why is it so quiet? Where did it go?
Maybe it was the propaganda.
As soon as the movement began, there also arose a pushback from people on the other side. They ignored the statistics and reminded us to stop resisting. They tried to transform conversations about police brutality into distracting discussions about black-on-black crime. They ginned up fear with slick-talking police-union lawyers and iron-fisted governors. They convinced juries that trying to breathe while being choked to death was “resisting,” and grabbing a gun to chase down a teenager with Skittles in his pocket was “standing your ground.”
Perhaps it is hiding because of how they demonized it.
They fooled white America that Black Lives Matter was a hate group, just as they convinced it that the civil rights movement was fueled by communism. They successfully brainwashed the country into believing that BLM was anti-cop, even when one of the movement’s founders said it wasn’t. They branded it as “violent” because burning and looting broke out during some demonstrations, like the violence that broke out during the inauguration, after the World Series or during Donald Trump rallies. Both the people who disparage Black Lives Matter and those reluctant to jump on board should remember one important fact:
There has never been a black movement in the history of America that white people found acceptable. Not the abolitionist movement. Not the black power movement. Not even the civil rights movement. Their egos and sense of privilege make them want to stomp out anything that doesn’t include or directly benefit them. That’s why they want to replace the name with “All Lives Matter.” Because of their innate subconscious supremacy, they can’t fathom that “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t mean only black lives matter, or black lives matter more. They can’t fathom the idea that it has nothing to do with (or against) them. That it is a simple, uncomplicated affirmation to ourselves and a reminder to the world.
Black lives matter.
Maybe the politicians killed it.
They’re making protests illegal now. Lawmakers in Minnesota are advancing a bill that would make protesters pay for policing. The state of North Dakota wants to make it OK (you might not believe this) for drivers to run over protesters with their cars. But the state of Washington has the best one: They want to increase the penalty for protesting by rebranding it as “economic terrorism.” They seem to be trolling BLM when states like Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and even California have passed or are considering “Blue Lives Matter” bills that make attacks on police a hate crime.
Oh, wait. I know what happened to Black Lives Matter.
We still have the same sentiments, but our attention spans are too short to box with the white revolution-crushing gods. Even though 29 black men have already been killed by police this year. Even though our esteemed Velveeta president signed three “law and order” executive orders protecting police. Even though our new attorney general has a history of anti-black racism and opposes almost every move by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
We dropped #BlackLivesMatter when internet sites and cable news shows stopped splashing pornographic images of dead black boys and replaced them with stories of pussy grabbing and immigrant bans. We watered it down by believing that changing profile pictures or speaking out on Twitter was actual resistance. We muted it because we were “with her” who once said “superpredator.”
We were distracted by being outraged at a neon-orange douchebag in a hairpiece. Our arms were tired from raising our fists. Our throats were sore. We had already Instagrammed selfies from the protest front lines. We had already bought the T-shirts. We had already used the hashtag.
The issues that Black Lives Matter brought to the forefront of America’s consciousness haven’t gone anywhere. Maybe the clamor in the nation’s ears has a different tone. Perhaps it was drowned out by the voices of the people who are unmoved by dead black 12-year-olds, but who’ll clog airport lobbies for every other shade of brown. Maybe it was too hard to hear when your ears were covered by the flaps of your pink pussy hat as the crowd screamed (ironically) about white men controlling their bodies. It may have been deflated by the sharp end of a safety pin. It doesn’t fight anymore; it “resists.” Velveeta orange is the new black, and it is so distracting that we damn near forgot about ourselves.
That’s what happened to Black Lives Matter.