Blue Lives Matter: The Statement Has No Place In Your Gym's Community
Catch phrases and hashtags are the norm its today’s social media driven world. Everyone looks to go “viral” with a one-liner that captures the attention of the masses. However, it is important to know the history behind the phrases that have been popularized by social platforms. That is why it is troublesome when you see gyms, promotions and “well-respected” organizations use the phrase “Blue Lives Matter.” A term that may seem simple to understand, but when recognizing its etymology, this is a phrase meant to silence minorities and oppressed groups.
The history to Blue Lives Matter messaging dates to 2014. In December of that year, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed in the line of duty. These two officers were killed in the line of duty in an alleged ambush by Ismaaiyal Brinsley who traveled from Baltimore to New York with the intention to kill police. Their deaths spurned the movement to sentence those found guilty of killing law enforcement officers under the same guidelines used to sentence those found guilty of hate crimes. Some versions of Blue Lives Matter laws cause for lesser infractions to be included as hate crimes. That is where the hashtag and movement originated, but since then it has become a statement used for much more insidious outcomes.
A simple understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement is that it is a push for the equality that has escaped the Black community for generations. Even after the passage of Civil Rights Acts, Voting Rights Acts and other measures, there are a multitude of examples that show simple equality has escaped minority communities. Racial disparities come into play in everything from employment opportunities, medical care, and law enforcement practices. To correlate a profession to a race is beyond problematic
In many ways, the conversation surrounding Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives Matter is very similar to those that have been held about Black Power versus White Power. One statement is meant as a cry to uplift the voices of the marginalized, a call for equality and pride of being. While the other is meant to strike fear, silence, and instill terror. Just look at the way the Blue Lives Matter statement is used and championed in ways that push racist or nationalistic rhetoric. The tie-ins are there.
Then there is the question of when have blue lives never matter? The answer is they have always mattered. Persons who enact crimes against law enforcement are fully prosecuted of said law. Law enforcement members do not face systemic challenges such as the school to prison pipeline, voting rights suppression., redlining and over-policing. And at the end of the day, those that have selected the career path of law enforcement can choose to walk away from the field. A person of color can never decide that they are no longer their race.
Tying this back to the martial arts industry, therefore it is such a challenge to push the idea that training is a solution to the issues this country has with police enforcement. When gyms, leaders, and promotions champion causes under the guise of supporting Blue Lives Matter it should cause a moment of pause for those people of color within that space. They are two stances that cannot be promoted at the same time. Policing itself was birth from the practice of capturing escaped and sometimes freed slaves. That practice has morphed in the centuries since, but a careful review of aspects like privatized prisons and revenue generating practices show that in many ways policing has not fully shaken off those dirty roots. Challenge your gym leaders that decide this message falls in line with the mantra within their community.