Photo of woman holding #BlackLivesMatter signPhoto: © DJMcCoy/iStock.com

Race Relations

Why I support the Black Lives Matter movement.

October 18, 2016 by Captain Mark Braye


In July 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. In the protests that followed, a hashtag on social media, #BlackLivesMatter, soon grew into what has been called a new civil rights movement.

Black Lives Matter has organized more than a thousand street demonstrations, bringing attention to the deaths of African Americans—such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, among others—at the hands of police.

In the United States, black men make up six percent of the population, but in 2015, they were 40 percent of all the unarmed people shot and killed by police, reports the Washington Post. Black Lives Matter is a call to action against systemic racism and inequality, a call for justice.

Some have criticized the Black Lives Matter movement by responding, “All lives matter.” While this is true, it’s not a helpful reaction. It’s insensitive and dismissive of real issues and concerns. No one says “all lives matter” when someone is drowning—we respond to the emergency in front of us. No one says “all cancer matters” when someone is dying of breast cancer. No one says “all cities matter” when praying for Orlando or another city struck by tragedy. Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean only black lives matter; it means racism and injustice against people of colour is something urgent we need to address.

In the United States, black men make up six percent of the population, but in 2015, they were 40 percent of all the unarmed people shot and killed by police.

Still another response to Black Lives Matter has been “Blue Lives Matter,” acknowledging that police officers risk their lives in the line of duty. In July, a gunman killed five police officers and injured nine others at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. A few weeks later, three more police officers were targeted in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Both were revenge attacks for the killing of black men by police.

Let’s be clear—the killing of police officers is tragic and completely unacceptable. But does that mean we can’t support the Black Lives Matter movement? Former U.S. president George W. Bush said, “Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” Does supporting a movement for its best intentions mean we are also supporting its worst examples? Should peaceful members of Black Lives Matter renounce the movement because of the racism and violence of other members? Should lawful police officers leave their profession because of the racism and violence of some police officers? Should Christians leave Christianity because of the bigotry and hate speech of the Westboro Baptist Church?

We often paint one group with the same brush (e.g. all Black Lives Matter members hate police) and another group with two brushes, to suit our beliefs (e.g. there are good police officers and bad police officers). Not all members of the Black Lives Matter movement hate police. Not all police officers are racist. ur world is broken and suffering. It’s why innocent black men are killed. It’s why police officers are killed while protecting and serving the community. We can be pro-Black Lives Matter and pro-Blue Lives Matter—these things do not have to be mutually exclusive.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks about his followers having love for each other. And not just any love, but the kind of love Jesus showed, love that lays down one’s life for friends. As Christians, we are called to show this self-sacrificial love. We are called to live in hope, as the words of Ella’s Song, by activist Bernice Johnson Reagon, make clear: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

Captain Mark Braye is the corps officer at Sarnia Community Church, Ont.

Comments

  1. Major Gary Reilly says:

    I have on occasion disagreed with some of the political bias demonstrated in not a few of the ‘Opinion and Critical Thought’ articles. However, never more sharply than “Why I Support Black Lives Matter”. While I do agree that injustice or racism has been a part of the past, and for too many is still existent in the present, the rhetoric and beliefs of BLM stand at odds with the teachings and practice of The Salvation Army. Information espoused on their websites (including the official American website) clearly states their goals as forwarding an agenda that is at the least unBiblical, and worse, promotes division.
    One particular ‘inspiring’ quote is attributed to Assata Shakur, an unrepentant and violent criminal who is currently enjoying asylum in Cuba after escaping custody in the US. She was involved in a police shooting that lead to the death of one state trooper, and the wounding of another.
    Even the very premise of BLM is incorrect. A recent New York Times article cited research indicated the fallacy that there is any disproportionate killing of blacks by police. In addition, according to several prominent Sheriffs and other law enforcement officials in the United States. recent shootings of police officers is directly attributable to anger generated by BLM, Shame on the Salvationist for printing this article. Surely there are better ways to promote racial harmony and advocate for justice without standing with BLM, whose methods and beliefs are questionable.

  2. Taken from the Black Lives Matter page
    We are committed to collectively, lovingly and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.

    Yup sounds contrary to what Jesus talked about his whole life to me…SMH

    Great article Mark I agree with you!!

  3. The problem is, Black Lives Matter people act like their lives are the only ones that matter. they don’t care that people of any color, black, white, Asian, whatever, are killed by cops every year. Why don’t they ever make any mention of that? Why doesn’t the NEWS make any mention of that?

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