Stop Hijacking The Black Lives Matter Credo
Do you know what needs to end with a quickness? Off the top of your head, I’m sure you can rattle off a long list of persons, places or things that should forever be banished. At the top of my list sits thoughtless companies, organizations and staunch animal activists that capitalize off of the Black Lives Matter movement – a movement that those very companies, organizations and staunch animal activists care not to understand or support, but whose name they adapt to support unequal and unimportant so-called causes.
Case in point, Rick Camuglia, the owner of a New Mexico-based pizzeria, Paisano. At $20 and $25 a pop, Camuglia has been selling Black Olives Matter T-shirts and hats to patrons because the briny struggle of black olives and their quest for pizza toppings equality is so very real. Le sigh. That heavy hanker is also directed at the Elephant Lives Matter account that recently followed me on Twitter. What is life?!
Well, life – Black lives, that is – don’t mean much if the preceding declarations are any indication. Not only do statements like Black Olives Matter and Elephant Lives Matter piggyback off the blood, sweat and tears of those fighting anti-Black racism, they mock and downright dismiss the necessary call to action that Black Lives Matter embodies. They fail to recognize that Black Lives Matter is not some hokey slogan or catchphrase used to push overpriced, corny or dust-covered merch. Nor is it the punchline of a tired, sleepy joke, a simple, clever hashtag, or a slur meant to keep non-Black people down, as All Lives Matter enthusiasts wrongfully assume. And you don’t have to be knee-deep in the trenches of the Black Lives Matter movement to know all of that. How disconnected or privileged must you be to utilize Black death, pain and the proven destructive effects of state violence against Black people as a selling tool for a completely off-topic issue, cause or idea?
And the last time I checked, elephants, smart as they are, aren’t humans. They haven’t been deprived of human rights and dignity. There’s no need to put them on a human level and declare that Elephant Lives Matter. And doing so in the wake of a movement formed after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted is more than just insensitive, it’s heartless and cold. This animals-over-humans thinking calls to mind the Justice for Harambe campaign that arose after a Cincinnati zoo gorilla was shot and killed after a young Black boy snuck into the animal’s enclosure. A chorus of Jack Hannas couldn’t convince folks quick to organize and rally around Harambe that, though unfortunate, the zookeepers did the right thing to protect that young boy’s precious life. There was little to no regard for that boy’s life, and even less regard for his parents who were quickly blamed, belittled and harassed. And do I even need to mention the hoopla fanfare surrounding Cecil the Lion, who by now probably has a museum, a school and a church or entire religion named after him? These movements, these animal rally cries, are additional tactics used to dehumanize Black folks. Tactics that support and uphold racist ideology.
And God bless the fragile mind of the unfortunate soul naïve enough to think that Black Lives Matter was appropriated from another (read: White) source. That’s like giving the Kardashians more credit for hairstyles, body parts and other sh-t they didn’t invent or already have naturally.
Clearly, the need for the Black Lives Matter movement is proof enough that the dehumanization of Black men, women and children won’t end sooner than later. But it would be great if the All Lives, All Animals Matter crew and their friends would stop trivializing and hijacking BLM’s declarative, resounding statement and using it to selfishly promote their weak agendas. Until then, we will have to continue to call them out.