Over the past couple of months, the civil population of the United States of America (short: USA) experienced a series of large-scale protests against racism towards black people in that country. Triggered by the murder of several black people by the police, the protests were quickly organised under the label Black Lives Matter and this movement gained worldwide prominence. While it is great to see that blacks are not silent about the 500 year-long slaughter of their people by whites, I have the feeling that the current structure of the movement does not allow for long-term improvement of the standard of living for blacks in the USA.
Beginning with the name of the movement, Black Lives Matter (short: BLM) is a very disadvantageous label. Linguistically seen, it suggests an implicit notion that blacks do not inherently matter as much as other races and that this movement tries to change that. I would even go so far to say that this label might trigger adverse effects. For example, if someone continuously comes up to me saying that the sky is blue (something that is very evident), I will start to doubt that. Similarly, saying that black people matter – that they are equal to other races – is heavily insulting, because it should be clear. If Turkish people would go on the streets in Germany to protest against racism, saying Turk Lives Matter, I would strongly denounce that. Of course, there are many racist people, but the black community should not waste their time and energy trying to convince those people that blacks are equal to whites. There are so many successful black people out there and for them it is a disadvantageous deal to invest so much time and energy for a public relations campaign.
Second, because the BLM movement started due to the murder of several blacks by the police, the actions by North American police departments are one of the core points on the agenda for criticism. Here, the term police brutality is often used. Again, the discourse around this topic has a slightly misplaced focus. It suggests that police departments actively recruit people with racist tendencies, which is untrue. Rather, there is racist sentiment across the large majority of the white North American population (short: Euro-Americans). Once such a person is vested with certain powers, such as the powers of a police officer, the person is lenient to use that power against the groups that he or she has a problem with. However, we need to understand that blacks are reluctant to express this issue the way I did, because then the Euro-Americans will argue that this is racist against them. However, blacks are in no obligation to convince anyone of their worth or that the experiences they make with whites are true, because that would, again, imply unequal power relations; in other words, who are the whites that blacks need to convince them of their worth? Also, it should not be forgotten that blacks suffered over 500 years of slavery (physical and mental). Accordingly, Euro-Americans and European whites should be able to stomach being called racist for once.
So, what should the BLM movement focus on instead? Certainly, I am in no position to determine the goals of the black community. However, there are some measures that would foster long-term growth of the community’s prosperity. With the current focus, I fear that Euro-Americans will simply adopt some minor measures to calm people down. Currently, the movement is too general to yield successful results – there is little specific action that can be taken. Rather, the black community should press for quotas in executive positions and equal pay legislations. Right now, the whole world is concerned with this matter and the press would exert considerable pressure, which the community should exploit. Further, the government should be obliged to heavily invest in the development of the ghettos and grant blacks privileges, such as tax cuts, to make up for the last 500 years – a tiny bit at least. Equally important is the revision of all legal cases of imprisoned blacks, because there are disproportionately more blacks in prison than Euro-Americans. Moreover, the black community should either demand the abolition of the term African-American or insist that whites are called Euro-Americans. What makes the whites more American than the blacks? Ironically, whites are not the true Americans, but when we say American we associate a white person with this term. Even the true Americans have a modifier in their name, as they are called Native Americans.
In conclusion, although there might be a lot more measures to be taken, in order to ensure that the black community will prosper in the future, these are some very important aspects to consider. Essentially, the black community needs to push for concrete actions, rather than expect to be solely heard and respected. Due to the structural changes, all Euro-Americans will be forced to respect blacks; surely, not all of them will do it out of conviction. However, it is the result that counts and I believe that it is also in the black community’s interest to have tangible results and getting insincere respect, than to have no results and getting insincere respect.