Non-Black Fragility Won’t Buy Our Civility

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Illustration by Alyssa Long

Raymond Matthews

Executive Content Editor

“My life matters,” is not a statement I should have to make, but since my life is now subject to a violent, public debate that I — and my Black brothers, sisters, and non-binary folk — may very well lose, we have been forced to the debate stage. This is my case for our lives.

To make myself clear, even though what happened to George Floyd is frighteningly familiar, it is not normal. It has been normalized, but it should go without saying that public servants publicly executing Black civilians without immediate and extreme legal consequences is nothing short of a crime against humanity. 

Anyone who states otherwise or defends the officer who murdered George Floyd and the officers who watched and did nothing is advocating for an anti-Black police state. This is not a difference of opinion, it is not “playing devil’s advocate.” It is a direct endorsement of domestic genocide.

The entitlement with which non-black people have told Black people how best to protest our murder, mourn for our community, and express ourselves in more “appropriate,” palatable ways so as not to upset them or challenge their fragile sense of normalcy is vile. The normalcy that you may want to return to as a non-Black person is exactly the set of oppressive, violent, criminally negligent conditions that Black people are actively trying to escape. 

Empty, de-contextualized, abstract platitudes like “violence isn’t the answer,” are coded language that blames — primarily Black — protestors for violence rather than blaming a fully militarized police force that has repeatedly taken unprovoked, extremely violent measures against crowds of — primarily Black — protestors who were demonstrating peacefully. 

The reductive, “good vs. bad/violent vs. peaceful” protestor dialogue is a disingenuous distraction from the real issue at hand: militarized, murderous police officers. Deriding protestors instead of holding police accountable is a deflection that blames victims and invalidates a social movement while shielding the police from accountability.

I’ll also point out that the phrase “violence isn’t the answer,” is historically inaccurate. In the most glamorized protest in U.S. history — the Boston Tea Party — protestors forcibly seized and destroyed capital in order to demand political change (a.k.a. looting) and as we all know, it was very effective. Let’s also not forget that America was founded by violently stealing Black resources and Black people. If you are okay with looting in the name of sales taxes and colonial greed — but not mass murder — your beliefs are not morally righteous, they are anti-Black.

Peace is ideal; we do not enjoy putting our lives at risk, which is why we as Black people have made every effort to be peaceful. 

We protested with our art, you told us to stop politicizing your entertainment. 

We said, “Stop killing us.” You asked, “What about Black-on-Black crime?” 

We took a knee; you called us “un-American.”

We said, “Black lives matter.” You said “All lives matter.”

There is no protest — peaceful or otherwise — that anti-Black people will accept, so forgive me for not listening to anti-Black, non-Black people about how best to package my activism. 

I’d also like to say that my activism does not begin and end with George Floyd, and neither should yours. I also protest for Breonna Taylor, an innocent Black woman who was murdered by two police officers in cold blood on March 13 by three police officers who broke into her apartment while searching for two suspects who happened to live in the same building. The three murderers have been placed on “administrative reassignment,” and have yet to face charges.

I protest for Tony McDade, a Black transgender-man who was gunned down last Wednesday by a police officer who was yet to be arrested and instead has been put on “administrative leave.”

These two murders have gone severely underreported because Black cis women, Black transgender men, Black transgender women, and Black gender non-conforming people are consistently devalued within the Black Lives Matter movement in order to elevate Black cis men — leaving all other Black people underrepresented. If your activism elevates Black cis men to the exclusion of all others, it is not pro-Black.

Black transgender lives matter. Black women’s lives matter. Black queer lives matter. We matter. I matter. Sorry if that inconveniences you.

Raymond Matthews
Raymond Matthews is a second-year student from Rocklin, CA, pursuing a Political Science major and a professional Journalism certification. He loves yoga, pilates, listening to 70’s music, and watching classic black & white movies.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great article Raymond.
    I especially appreciate the way you included the issues of sexual orientation and gender in your discussion of violence against Black people. Together, we will overcome.
    Laura Woodward

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