As the fire of Black Lives Matter is starting to die down what we are being left with all the scattered smouldering flames of activists and speakers talking about the less brazen everyday acts of racism enacted either against or within the black community. Many of these issues, such as colourism are serious issues which need to be discussed for us as people to truly be able to rise. However, I can’t help but notice that whenever a black power movements start to gain momentum, phrases such as “black on black crime” and “black men don’t love black women” tend to crop up more and more on influencer and news platforms. And while these issues are undoubtedly significant, asking people to abandon black power movements because of these issues undermines the cause.
That is not to say that these phrases do not have some basis of truth, but these are the results of the root issue affecting black communities – not the root issues itself. That root is white supremacy, and that is what Black power movements are trying to tackle. If we uproot white supremacy first, then we can move on to eradicating its effects which are colourism and a racist distribution of economic opportunities and cultural appropriation. These phrases that get thrown up are used to discredit us by painting us to be incapable of standing by each other- so why should the worlds take notice of us and respect our lives we do not respect our own.
Black on black crime is one of those inflammatory phrases. I personally do not believe that black on black crime exists. There’s simply Crime. White people harm white people every day, and the term ‘white on white crime’ has never been coined. In countries like India, China and African countries, people of the same race harm each other every day. But you never hear terms like ‘Indian on Indian Crime’ or ‘Chinese on Chinese crime’ and the term ‘black on black crime’ is rarely applied to African countries. Why? Because the term ‘black on black crime’ it’s not a fact. It’s a linguistic tool used by institutions who want to keep black people down. It creates the illusion that black people harm each other at a higher rate than any other race. Thus, the phrase convinces the world that we don’t value our own lives, so no one else should either. But they are not committing ‘black on black’ crime- they’re merely committing crimes against the people who happen to be in their immediate vicinity. But we don’t need to tackle ‘black on black crime’. We need to address crime in general and the lack of academic and social opportunities which create these rates of crimes and as well as the issues of over-policing which produces higher rates of black convicts. But it has the desired effect of making people turn around and say ‘well black people don’t love each other so why should we love them?’
Likewise, a few influencers have been calling for black women to abandon the blm cause because some black men do not find black women attractive or do not protect black women in the way that we support them. But it doesn’t take a genius to understand that not all black men have these tendencies. It also should not take a genius to realise that what we see on social media is the outcome of the social media algorithm. If you see something- like a black man abusing a black woman- on your feed and then proceed to like it, comment on it, send it to other people. Then, if they do the same, it creates a domino effect, both on your feed and on the feeds of those you interact with, making it look like black men exist only to hate black women. This again discredits black power movements, both in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of black women who are now turning away from the cause. But by calling for black women to withhold their support for the movement, you’re also asking them to abandon those black men who are deserving of that support. It’s a case of cutting off your nose spite your face.
Now, I am in no way saying that what you are seeing is entirely false- it’s disgusting to see – and there is 100 per cent no reason for you to fight for people who don’t fight for you. But what we need to remember is that Black empowerment does not only apply to black men/problematic black men. It applies to black women as well as black children, our black nieces, nephews, brothers, godchildren and friends, who are all affected by white supremacy. So for movements such as BLM to be successful, we need to secure their futures by opposing white supremacy. And we do this but acting in whatever way we feel to be necessary to support the movement – not by taking a back seat because the internet has thrown out a few dissonant phrases to discredit us as a race. And maybe if we give the next generation of black children better prospects, issues like colourism will die out.
For us, as black women, to focus solely on the fact that some black men do not support us and then use that as an excuse not to support a cause that could help our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves to rise up, is extremely narrow-minded.
These particular fights should be ongoing with or without the movement. We absolutely need to tackle colourism and sexism. We absolutely need to provide young black people with creative and educational outlets to reduce the chances of them entangling with the criminal justice system. But to use our focus on these issues as a means eclipsing the movement when it starts to gain momentum or using it to justify non-support is very tunnel-visioned. To start tackling these issues, we need to first address the broader issue of white supremacy which creates all these other problems of systematic and generational prejudice. So we need to keep that in mind when discussing the other issues which surround the black community. And we do need to keep discussing them- but not at the expense of the liberation of the race as a whole and as excuses for us to disbanding into separate warring camps so that white racist’s groups can pick us off one by one.