There is a popular saying that states, it is often ‘not what you say, it’s how you say it.’ Although I find much validity in this statement, I think that it should be expanded to include, “it really matters who is speaking as well.” Let’s face facts, our voices, particularly when it comes to political issues are not equal. There are individuals who are very similar to the old E.F. Hutton commercial, “When he speaks, people listen.” It is this very reason that I was so pleased to not only watch Barack Hussein Obama, the President of the United States of America, during a panel discussion with Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and U.S. Attorney for Colorado John Walsh, but also focused upon his comments as they dealt with the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a verse, tone, and tenor that we have rarely seen, President Obama addressed the matter of discord between law enforcement officers and African-Americans throughout this nation. Obama charged that “the African-American community is not must making this up…It’s real and there’s a history behind it.” Although it is particularly disturbing to whites’ the historical record of this nation clearly displays that the brutalization of stolen Africans and their African-American descendants is a favorite national pastime that the vast majority of whites reveled in. From the moment that the initial cargo of stolen Africans arrived in Jamestown, persons of African descent have lived under the reign of tyrannical whites.
It is this storied, yet often ignored, history that Obama is clearly alluding to when he relates that “The African-American community in not just making this up.” Obama realizes that absent an understanding of this nation’s historical cheapening of Black Lives, many whites are doomed to a failed analysis of the Black Lives Matter movement. President Obama related that the “problem of racial…injustice in society has been a running theme in this country’s history for a very long time.”
Ignorance is the only vehicle that makes it possible for many whites to righteously counter the Black Lives Matter mantra with their own mantra of All Lives Matter. Predictably, there is a significant population of African-Americans who have denounced the Black Lives Matter slogan and chosen to champion All Lives Matter instead. Such an occurrence is predictable when one realizes that neither Black nor white students have been informed about this nation’s history of routinely brutalizing African-Americans to maintain the status quo.
To my delight, President Obama weighed in on the entire flap surrounding Black Lives Matter when he related that “…the reason that the organizers use the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter. Rather, they were suggesting that there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that is not happening in other communities.”
According to President Obama, this nation must invest in all young people, regardless of their socioeconomic background. Failure to do such dooms society and leads to rampant incarceration rates. It is hard to argue with Obama’s assertion that “as a society, if we are not investing in opportunity for poor kids, and then we expect just the police and prosecutors to keep them out of sight and out of mind, that’s a failed strategy.”
Until this nation makes the necessary changes in its priorities; the need to assert that ‘Black Lives Matter’ will never disappear. And for that, every American should be saddened. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are not.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.
©Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2015