On Monday, BlackLivesMatter received a “candid” piece of advice from Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson: Focus on something other than police brutality to implement real change, specifically the public education system, crack houses, and the entertainment industry. However, proclaiming recent protests as “lunacy” only to present that BlackLivesMatter instead march for the aforementioned causes, only seems like a benign suggestion when absent of the context from which BlackLivesMatter was born and what it is trying to achieve. Actually, a much more telling narrative is revealed between the lines of this op-ed, and it’s not that BlackLivesMatter should shift their attention to other issues, but that (black) collective “rage,” as it is put, is ultimately pathological, and blatant is the misconception that racism is a black problem.
But of the most problematic, Carson fails to talk about BlackLivesMatter or that black lives matter. It is not simply “racial policing issues,” or “some bad policemen” being protested, it is police brutality and the culture that has founded and sustained all means to perpetuate the political, social, and economic conditions of its origins. It goes without saying that this is racism as opposed to a “notion,” or an abstract concept that some lives matter less than others. Conveying the reality that particular lives are indefinitely valued over all others is not a ploy to “enrage,” but enlightenment in a world that likes to believe it is beyond race. Even in choosing to ignore, obscure, and deny this truth, Carson himself has not evaded or fully overcome its trappings and harsh reality; Evident in his personal stance that the black collective is “hopeless,” for such a statement is indicative that he has internalized the (dominant) ideology that it is true.
His rags to riches brief does little to increase relatability and credibility when used as a means to demean, although it is framed as a measure of encouragement. Stressing the significance of education is great, but believing that all it takes is a library card to eradicate police brutality and all other issues facing black America—in and of themselves various manifestations of racism—is not rational. It will take much more than education to change the normative values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of this culture.
The real problem as to why predominantly black schools need more resources, black neighborhoods suffer in the ways that they do, and why entire industries profit at the expense of black lives, has nothing to do with how BlackLivesMatter advocates for human rights. Simply put, until there is a level playing field all of these problems will remain, and quite frankly, holding black people accountable for them is the last thing conducive to moving forward.