The Sky is Blue.
The grass is green.
Black people suffer.
I wrote this poem in reaction to white people who believe that Black suffering is inevitable and normal. The acceptance and apathy regarding the daily pain of insult and injury experienced by our Black and brown brothers and sisters, daily pain of insult and injury that is caused by white indifference, insensitivity, hostility and rage — all unjust — is mystifying and frightening.
One need not look at the ugly speak of Mr. Trump: i.e. the invasion of rapists and murderers at the Mexican border; the very fine people that can be found in “Unite the White”. Or at the numerous threatening behaviors against Black students on college campuses: getting arrested by police at the library; nooses and bananas being hung on dorm doors and building elevators. Or more violently: the deaths of our Black and Brown brothers by cops who overreact; or white teen boys and men who hate.
One just needs to read in the paper a story about a white doctor who complained about being treated “like a Black person” when he was arrested at an American Airlines ticket counter at the Orlando International Airport. The good doctor became enraged when he was told he was too late to check in. When police arrived at the scene he began yelling insults to the officers. He resisted arrest by falling to a ball on the ground. Yes, he was pepper-sprayed, but he was given a heads up. As officers struggled to put him in handcuffs he yelled, “Oh my God, I am being treated like a Black person.”
The indignity is about being “treated like a black person”.
Not how Black and brown people are treated.
In Western New York, white players from a hockey team called a seventeen-year-old opposing player who was Black a monkey while making monkey gestures and sounds. They did so leaning over the boards near his team’s bench. Not one white person, in that moment, yelled at those kids: not the officials; not their coaches; not their parents; not their teammates. It was recorded, but no other intervention was made. A Buffalo News editor asked, “Why did these teenagers think it was all right to behave that way?” and, “Where did they learn that?” Really, sir? You don’t know the answer to those questions?
Perhaps that news editor should look outside his window at the town and county in which he lives. Confederate flags can be found hanging from porches. The Blues Live Matter flag can be found on the bumpers of cars, on t-shirts of gym goers, and even hanging from one Buffalo district police station.
Can you imagine the response and backlash if the Black Lives Matter movement created their own flag: an American flag with a thick black stripe?
The Blue Lives Matter “movement” is a direct and hostile reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement. The implied “too” is not even subtle. That movement was law enforcement’s public response to the BLM movement. Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem — kneeling, in and of itself, is a sign of respect — to call attention to the number of Black lives that were lost to police brutality. A call to action by all citizens was made. But, instead of listening, and accepting the data, and admitting, that “Yes, we have a national problem with police brutality”, the law enforcement community reacted. The thin-blue line embedded within the United States flag is an assertion of police power and authority. Their assertion, that “we matter too” is defiant. Because we all know police lives matter.
Every child growing up in the United States learns that police officers are to be respected and valued.
A police officer’s testimony in the court of law carries more weight than your average citizen’s. How many of us have donated to the Police Benevolent Association without even questioning where our donation dollars go? We are just happy to get the PBA sticker to put on our windshield in hopes that it will discourage an officer from giving us a traffic ticket. Police troops are represented in our parades. Police officers are invited as honorees to our block parties. And, now we can even go for a cup of “Coffee With A Cop”.
It is important to question the creation and embracing of the Blue Lives Matter movement. It’s very existance dismisses and silences Black suffering. The importance of the Black Lives Matter movement; a movement to address the numerous social injustices that occur in our deeply, divided, racialized country — where the poles of difference have remained constant: white supremacy and Black subjugation that marks the social bottom — is made insignificant and irrelevant.
Even more telling and scary:
The insertion of the thin blue line with in the Confederate flag speaks for itself. It cannot be denied that the confederate flag is a treasonous flag; a symbol of Black enslavement and Jim Crow. A symbol embraced by white supremacists and to threaten African-Americans. The power of privilege allows whites to argue that the Confederate flag is nothing but a symbol of Southern pride; and to argue that symbols (and words, such as Redskins) can be a racial slur, but no always. In other words, to be white is to assert that ugly, insulting and racist slurs and symbols can be separated from their history, definition, or intention.
The Sky is blue. The grass is green. Black people suffer.