Let’s imagine for a moment the term Black Lives Matter didn’t exist. Despite its absence, there would probably still be a lot of people protesting in the streets right now. But, what would be on those protest signs in its place? What would be sprawled in big yellow block letters on a D.C. street near the White House? What would folks be chanting?
Raise your hand if you think protest signs would have N.A.A.C.P. or Urban League plastered on them. Who thinks the old throwback Black Power slogan still has legs? Maybe we’d see a lot more ‘I Can’t Breath’ signs.
Obviously, if there was no Black Lives Matter there’d be no All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Chester Matters or the Philadelphia Inquirer inspired Buildings Matter.
The term Black Lives Matter takes on many forms. Just to see or hear it angers many, yet many others appropriate the term likes it’s the feature flavor of the day at Stone Cold Creamery.
Because Black Lives Matter can be morphed to fit so many objectives, people have a hard time distinguishing which Black Lives Matter they’re dealing with when so many iterations of Black Lives Matter are on display at the same time in the same place.
Black Lives Matter (Thing One) is the organization itself which came to be in the wake of the Trayvon Martin assassination acquital to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-Black racism and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all Black lives. They affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Their network centers those who have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. They are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.
Black Lives Matter (Thing-One) was formed by three amazing black women: Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a New York Times Best Selling Author and Fulbright scholar; Alicia Garza who is currently the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States; and Opal Tometi a Nigerian-American writer, strategist, and community organizer who came up with #BlackLivesMatter and is credited with devising the online platforms and initiating the social media strategy during the project’s early days.
Team me up with a Fulbright scholar, a special projects director, and a social media strategist and I’ll put together something special, too.
Black Lives Matter (Thing-Two) is a statement of fact. Many people marching in these streets have no idea there’s a Thing-One. Many are carrying signs and chanting Black Lives Matter Thing-Two: a statement of fact. Thing-Two is new, cool, and hip for a lot of the younger protesters of all races.
If you’re not clear which Black Lives Matter Thing you’re representing, you can find yourself in a tough position like Police Sergeant Skippy who got mixed up in a Black Lives Matter spat that got folks in the streets demanding he get fired.
The Delaware County Daily Times says the incident went down like this. A white business owner responded to a Facebook post of All Lives Matter by responding…
“I’m tired of hearing that,” Wolf said. “Black Lives Matter – it’s not a separatist statement. They’re saying, ‘We don’t deserve to die for nothing.’ I am in agreement with that.”
Obviously, he was referring to Black Lives Matter-Thing Two.
As happens so often in these cases, a Black Lives Matter off-brand enters the conversation starting with ‘All Lives Matter.’
He was questioned on social media whether he believed police officers’ lives matter. To which, he said he wrote, “Do they, though?”
Here’s where Skippy kicks in.
In response, Media Borough Police Sgt. and 1st Vice President of the Delco FOP Lodge 27 Robert “Skippy” Carroll responded on the FOP’s Facebook page: “If you choose to speak out against the police or our members, we will do everything in our power to not support your business.” Then, on his own personal Facebook page, Carroll wrote, “Try us. We’ll destroy you.”
So, what started out as someone responding to the off-brand ‘All Lives Matter’ with his take on the original on-brand ‘Black Lives Matter,’ he gets his business threatened because of sensitivities to the another off-brand ‘Police Officers’ Lives Matter.’
A couple people asked my take on Skippy’s comments at a time no one knew how the exchange started with the businessman and I could only say Skippy seemed pretty sincere in his comments and felt comfortable telling us what’s obvious. Police don’t take too kindly to having their reputation tarnished. I thought everyone knew that already.
As it turns out, for his honesty, Skippy was given a paid vacation (suspended with pay), and he and the business owners are seen shaking hands. As I expected from there very beginning, there’s nothing to see here. Proceed as normal.