The impression that the Black Lives Matter movement puts black lives above all other lives is a distorted perspective that a group of people tend to hold. Adjunct professor for Sociology, Devon Lee, talks about why black lives matter in the era of white supremacy on April 04.
The message Devon Lee was trying to get across was that all lives do matter. However, we live in a world where Black lives seem to matter less when we consider police violence, educational, health, and income disparities. He argued that in order for all lives to matter, Black lives must matter more in American society. He noted that movements like “All Lives” or “Blue Lives” matter only deflect from a real. He said that “these movements tend to interrupt a valid ethical claim” which is that racial profiling (and discrimination) still plays a major role in the lives of black folks.
“For example, blacks are subjected to more discipline compared to other races,” he said. Media coverage, despite its responsibility to fair representation, has become an avid promoter of a narrative that perpetuates a history of violent black people as well other minorities. That “creates this cycle that stereotypes children by creating disparities [between people].” He noted how when innocent Black children are murdered by police, media usually features a criminal background check, however, are less likely to do so for the assailant.
Mr. Lee even went further in referring to the constitution as being used as a veil that limits our ability to see what happens behind the scenes. People tend to believe that constitutional rights are universal and applies to all and/or protects all, but the truth of the matter is that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is cut short when state sanctioned violence and disparity shapes the life of an entire community.
Justice is often depicted as a blindfolded woman weighing scales of truth. Mr. Lee points out, that goes to show that justice fears none nor favors none. But what is justice really?
“Ethics are interesting because of its subjectivity,” he said. “Racial profiling has not been removed from policing. Is that ethical? From a legal standpoint, Yes, because it’s legal, but in terms of human impact, it’s unethical. [Therefore] law is inconsiderate of human impact. We’re at a historical low of police officers getting killed on the job. Even so, the majority are attacked by whites, not blacks. However, many people see the Movement for Black lives as an attack on law enforcement and replace fact with fiction. This perverts justice in a way where it is difficult for “rational” people to see Black people as victims. [And] research shows us that the more black you look, the more strict your sentence is going to be even if the same crime was committed by a white man.” Justice is neither unbiased or blind.
Lee finds today’s events to resemble the Plessy vs. Ferguson case of 1896, a day where an important historical decision was made on the basis of “separate but equal” and set back civil rights in the United States for decades to come. The Black community is portrayed as a threat to the freedoms and liberties that have been designed by and protected for whites. With economic instability alongside anti-black sentiment, legislation like stand your ground and Blue lives matter laws are implicitly designed to undermine the freedoms of Black America.
The assumption that the movement is about how black lives matter more than others is an inaccurate claim because it’s about the way they’re treated and how “blacks have fought for liberty in a way that whites have refused to acknowledge. Women [for example] are said to have the same rights but it’s the way that they’re treated that “devalue” their rights. It’s the same case for racism- simply people’s devaluation of others undermine their ability to live a quality of life. It is this struggle that has defined our democracy and that is now at stake if we fail to recognize the impact of white supremacy.
So all lives matter once blacks lives start to matter.”
Devon Lee currently teaches Sociology at Radford University and is excited about also becoming an instructor Peace Studies as well next year. He is a Doctoral Candidate in Virginia Tech Sociology Department, specializing in Africana Studies and holds a Bachelors in Sociology, African American Studies as well as a Master’s degree in African American Studies. After leading a march against racial profiling during his early days as a college student, Mr. Lee decided he wanted to put his labor and his energy into actively influencing people’s lives for the better through activism and education.