Because Black lives do matter so much, a movement to deal with Blacks’ many valid grievances is necessary and overdue. Let’s sort out why BLM is not that movement.
BLM focuses its attention, time, resources, and efforts on (1) a wide array of issues that are not unique to Blacks,[i] and (2) the grievances of “marginalized” people, the majority of whom are not Black,[ii] e.g., LGBTQIA+. Regardless of those other grievances’ merit, such focus will likely improve the lives of non-Blacks more than the lives of Blacks.
BLM once listed those extraneous grievances on its “What We Believe” webpage. While the page was sweepingly revised, the information is still findable.[iii]) Perhaps it dawned on BLM that publicizing its support of extraneous movements revealed how much of BLM’s agenda is not about Blacks. However, all the off-topic groups are still part of the movement and integral to BLM.
Directing BLM resources to non-Black matters leaves fewer resources to address Black matters, i.e., Black lives will improve less than BLM’s power, reach, and resources could produce if BLM focused on issues that mostly affect Blacks. Worse, many of BLM’s initiatives harm Blacks.
According to Wikipedia, “Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a decentralized movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against Black people… an organization known simply as Black Lives Matter exists as a decentralized network with about 16 chapters in the United States and Canada.” So, BLM does not speak with one voice. Some things about BLM, however, are certain.
BLM’s current “What Matters” webpage says, “BLM’s #WhatMatters2020 will focus on issues concerning racial injustice, police brutality, criminal justice reform, Black immigration, economic injustice, LGBTQIA+ and human rights, environmental injustice, access to healthcare, access to quality education, and voting rights and suppression.” Also, “to continue to pressure ICE, and to draw attention to the need for immigration reform.”
Many of the issues on the list disproportionately help non-Blacks:
Liberals, Conservatives,[iv] and Libertarians[v] support some BLM criminal justice reforms, e.g., reducting unnecessary police brutality, independent investigations of officer-involved shootings, police body cameras, hiring more minority officers, and more mental-healthcare funding.[vi] BLM, Conservatives, and Libertarians support attenuating the power of police unions to protect bad cops.
On the other hand, BLM supports criminal reform that would cause Black crime to be less risky and more profitable.[vii] Crime already pays so much that too many people (disproportionately Black people) find it worthwhile. Reducing the costs of crime and reducing the likelihood of getting arrested will increase the number of criminals on the streets. Because the streets of poor Black communities are where a disproportion of criminals hang out, Black people will disproportionately bear the brunt of more criminals on the street.
“Police Brutality” that is unnecessary to prevent harm to innocent Blacks is opposed by almost everyone. BLM, however, condemns all police brutality, which includes brutality that is required to arrest someone who is committing or has committed a violent crime. When a person brutally resists arrest, brutality on the part of the police may be required to get the violent criminal to stop or get off the streets. Stopping violent crimes and keeping violent criminals out of Black communities is best for the vast majority of Blacks.
The “Black immigration” initiative includes the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).[viii] “Abolish ICE” would benefit far more Hispanics than Blacks. While lawful immigration benefits Americans, most people entering the country without authorization (ICE’s primary focus) disproportionately drive down low- and middle-income wages, which disproportionately hurts the earnings and job opportunities of impoverished Blacks. Also, the inevitable disproportionate increases in Hispanic voters will decrease Blacks’ political power.
BLM places a high priority on LGBTQIA+ matters.[ix] However, a higher percentage of Hispanics claim to be LGBT than Blacks, and the rate of LGBT growth by Blacks has been slower than the rate of LGBT growth by Hispanics, Asians, and Whites.[x]
BLM is anti-religion.[xi] Blacks are more religious than Whites, Hispanics, and most “Others.”
Destroying institutions that Blacks disproportionately value and rely on to improve their lives would not be part of an organization whose primary goal was to improve Black lives.
BLM proposes “defunding the police”[xii] or “abolition of the police.”[xiii] However, 80% of Blacks want the same or more policing, and “Black respondents were more likely to want more police presence than white, Asian, and all adults overall… The overwhelming support for current levels of policing even holds among black respondents who say they see the police often or very often. Two in three of those say they would like to see the police the same amount or more…”[xiv] Why? Because violent criminality disproportionately torments Black neighborhoods.
As I sorted out in “Slowing the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”—At What Cost?,” BLM’s ban[xv] on “zero tolerance” discipline in schools[xvi] has been devastating for Blacks. Making those policies more widespread would make things worse for Blacks.
BLM supports ending[xvii] and circumventing[xviii] cash bail. Michel Foucault fulminations[xix] to the contrary notwithstanding, societies must have a reasonably functional justice system. At a minimum, just and civil societies must convict and punish criminals to an extent sufficient to keep criminality at reasonable levels. Fair convictions of criminals require the presence of the accused. Jailing everyone charged with a crime to ensure attendance would be infeasible and unjust to the innocent people.
To strike a balance between jailing the innocent and ensuring attendance at trial, courts often “release on bail” defendants who are too dangerous or likely to flee. Bail is the primary means by which courts allow defendants to avoid languishing in jail before trial. (It is the worst possible system, except for all the others conceived ones.) Without the bail system, far more criminals would be on the streets disproportionately hurting or killing innocent people in poor Black communities.
Lawlessness is exceptionally harmful in Black communities. The problems caused by violent crimes are apparent. The issues with non-violent criminality are less obvious, but might be more problematic. Living where one can trust neighbors is vastly nicer than the alternative. People who live with rampant lawlessness rarely thrive. Running a business in lawless communities is much more hazardous, risky, and expensive than elsewhere — all of which raise the cost of doing business. Higher costs result in higher prices to customers and fewer businesses — thereby inflicting on neighbors higher costs and the inconvenience and expense of traveling farther to shop or work. Many of the businesses in black neighborhoods are Black-owned and employ Blacks. Kids having nearby job opportunities and seeing neighbors succeed in business provide positive role models and instills the morals and work habits necessary to thrive. With too much shoplifting, looting, rioting, or arson, businesses cannot survive, and Black kids are more likely to believe that trying to succeed is a sucker’s game after all.
If Black lives matter to BLM as much as BLM would have us believe, BLM would care more about the Blacks that will be harmed by subverting or eliminating cash bail. An organization that believes Black lives matter would work to fix[xx] the problems with cash bail, not add its elimination to the long list of BLM proposals that would incentivize criminality in Black neighborhoods.
While much of BLM’s agenda concerns criminal justice, nothing in BLM’s agenda aims to close the disproportionately high rate of crimes committed by Blacks.[xxi] On the contrary, BLM’s rhetoric causes more Blacks to believe the police are “hunting them down.”[xxii] Whether or not BLM’s claims about police targeting Blacks are true, the message increases the indignation of Blacks when they are detained by police. As a consequence of that message, Blacks disproportionately become understandingly indignant when detained by police and resist arrests.[xxiii] That conduct results in the rate of Black arrests for resisting arrest being many multiples of the rate for Whites.[xxiv] The resulting disproportionate confrontations far too often wind up with Blacks being killed by police. Dismantle patriarchal practices? How could doing that disproportionately help Blacks? There are plenty of “studies” and articles that tout the benefits to women of having the freedom to scrap men from their family life (and plenty about the resulting harm to children). I am aware of only one compelling argument that jettisoning men from families disproportionately benefits Black families. That argument is that Black men are more violent or otherwise problematic for Black families than men of other races. If that is true, it is likely because government welfare programs have disproportionately made the presence of Black men in the home an economic burden on the family — the opposite of the situation in Black families before the War on Poverty type programs began — which BLM supports.
Disrupt Western culture? It was Western culture that brought about the end of slavery being acceptable in the world. People who adhere to Western cultural norms fare better than people who do not.
In par, Whites fare better in American than most other races because they accept Western Values and the cultural aspects and assumptions that go with them. Is there something about Blacks that would prevent them from adopting those advantageous aspects and assumptions? I certainly think and hope not. BLM claims that Blacks are disadvantaged. There is some truth to that. One of their disadvantages is being encouraged to reject Western culture.
None of the above excuses systemic or police wrongdoing against Blacks. I condemn those. Nor does it suggest that reform is unneeded. It is. However, projects/movements to reduce mistreatments and deaths of Blacks that do the opposite are perverse.[xxv] Yet, that is what BLM’s proposals do. Perhaps reducing mistreatments and deaths of Black is not BLM agenda.
All of the above could cause one to suspect that BLM is primarily about things other than fixing what matters to Blacks. Let’s sort out what those other things might be in the next post in this series.
Examples from BLM’s What We Believe page:
- “We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
- We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.
- We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
- We dismantle the patriarchal practice…
- We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure
- We foster a queer‐affirming network…”
[xiv] Gallup: 80 Percent of Black Americans Want the Same or More Police in Their Neighborhoods, The Left Wants to Abolish the Police. Does the Black Community?, Tyler Perry: “I think we need more police”