“Join the Michigan Political Union as we debate the merits of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Resolution: Black Lives Matter is harmful to racial relations in the United States”
When I first caught wind of this “debate,” I was at a speakout on the Diag. Black students were there, screaming about injustices and the murder of our people, reading poetry about our pain and sharing our stories of heartache at the University of Michigan. We also had students from Eastern Michigan University come and share their stories about the racist graffiti on their campus. They talked about being angry, being afraid to go to class and being afraid to exist on a campus where racists roam and the University’s administration doesn’t do enough to address it or ensure their safety.
This came on the heels of multiple Black people being murdered by the police consecutively. The irony of a group of non-Black people contemplating the merits of the Black Lives Matter movement while the National Guard is enforcing a police state in North Carolina was, in that moment, unfathomable. And quite frankly, it still is. As Black students gathered to collectively express our pain, to share our very genuine fears for our lives, the idea of whether or not “Black Lives Matter is harmful to racial relations in the United States” seemed appropriate to you.
This, for you, may be a debatable topic. It may be controversial, intriguing and you may have genuine race relation concerns that you’re trying to grapple with and understand.
However, this mere “debate” topic, epitomizes the Black experience since the conception of the United States of America. Whether or not you’re using this as a controversial topic to garner attention, you’re only perpetuating the practice of non-Black people deciding, debating, evaluating whether or not Black pain is legitimate and if it should be acknowledged. You’re continuing the practice of policing how Black people express their pain, and if it is comforting and conscious of white feelings in the United States. This isn’t about the merits of a movement; this is about white comfort and a push to maintain white supremacy.
Debating this topic is asinine at best, and blatantly racist. As anyone who is Black knows, race relations — the same race relations that allowed for President George Bush to twiddle his thumbs during Hurricane Katrina, the same race relations that allowed Trayvon Martin to be murdered in the street, the same race relations that scrutinized Sandra Bland exercising her rights — have always been harmful to Black people. There has never been racial harmony in the United States, and BLM only sheds light on that fact.
Acknowledge the privilege you have to have this “debate.” The Black Lives Matter movement stems from the extrajudicial murder of Black people, and while your life is not debatable, neither is mine. Audre Lorde says “survival is not an academic trait,” thus the very academic debate on whether or not the movement is harmful to racial relations only reminds us that our survival will never be important to you and our actions will always be scrutinized.
Black people’s lives have been lost, and those of us who are alive fear for our lives. As I sit in classes at this University, people debate the validity of our cries and fight for the right to live, but no one takes pause when another Black person is murdered by the police. Where are The Michigan Daily articles when Black people are shot down in the street, left to die? Where are the debates on police training and whether or not the funding of a police state violates human rights?
Your “debate” gives light to my experience at this University: I’m constantly fighting for my humanity to be acknowledged beyond white fragility and the anti-blackness and apathy from non-Black people of color.