There’s a lot of debate over whether Black Lives matter is helping or hurting the non-black American perception of black Americans and the racial tensions in the country. Critics of the movement claim that protestors just hurt their own public image by engaging in not always non-violent protests, which is a fair point but one that misses the greater picture of the movement. Black Lives Matter was created in response to the still very present racial tensions in America, tensions that were greatly accentuated by the mass documentation of racist police brutality and murder of black citizens by policemen in the past five years. In some ways, being a black citizen in America seems very much like being a normal citizen in Egypt; if you look at an officer the wrong way, you could find yourself in the back of a police car heading towards the local station. If you’re very unlucky, you might die from repeated head trauma in the back of that police car before you ever get there, as in the case of Freddie Gray.
To say that Black Lives Matter heightens the racial tensions in the country might be true, but it escapes the necessity of answering the larger issue. Black Lives Matter was created as a response to heightened racial tensions, the murders by police, so to say it’s created all the racial tensions, or even most of them, is woefully uninformed. That statement also supposes that we were previously living in some super-American, post-racial haven that Black Lives Matter then corrupted by speaking up. This argument ignores almost the entire racial history of the US where blacks have been both personally and systematically persecuted by groups of whites, and it implies that perhaps the critic supposed that racial tensions ended after the Civil Rights Movement, an argument which any newspaper (other than Breitbart) could tell you is factually wrong. In this way it seems America has an underlying dichotomy similar to Egypt’s. Egypt has two splits: one between the military government and the citizens and another between the old and young. America has a split between all the different races (not just blacks and whites) and another between the militaristic government and the citizens, when those citizens are black Americans.
So the movement Black Lives Matter is aptly named, because the rest of America (especially the police) has been showing since the country’s inception that black lives don’t matter. The racial tension has always been there, and it’s about time we tell them they’re wrong.