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The Ludicrous Arguments Against Black Lives Matter

Written by Daniel Banta

Photo via Chainsawsuit.com

The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) has dominated news cycles and sparked a much-needed national dialogue about race in America. While there are valid concerns about BLM and its aims, many detractors criticize the movement using poorly constructed arguments. Before we can understand why the criticisms are flawed, a quick history lesson on BLM is needed.

In 2012, George Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed Af-rican American teenager named Trayvon Martin in Florida. The ensuing trial garnered national attention and led to discussions on racial profiling, the justice system, and general institutionalized racism. BLM was founded when Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Martin. The founders were Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors. The movement has since grown into a broad grassroots movement of activists. Their stated aim is to protest against and eventually overcome the systemic racism that has restricted the freedom of African Americans. Millions of people dis-miss the movement for its exclusive focus on black lives, countering with the refrain “all lives matter.” Others claim that BLM’s activism is divisive and unnecessary due to the media’s exaggerations of racial inequality. Opponents also argue that BLM is encouraging violence against police. All these criticisms are unfounded and lack basis in fact.

The most common dismissal of BLM’s agenda is “all lives matter,” an appealingly simplistic but ultimately misguided response. The critics who offer this response assert that the phrase “black lives matter” somehow implies that white lives do not. The BLM movement is not trying to argue that white lives do not matter. Of course all lives matter. Instead, asserting that black lives matter is a response to the implicit statement that they do not. This assertion is made when black men are shot by white cops who go unpunished. It is made when black people are disproportionately incarcerated compared to white people. It is made when the residual effects of centuries of institutionalized racism limit opportunities for people of color.

This is where the second criticism comes in. Many All Lives Matter proponents are unable to see the necessity of the BLM movement since they are not aware of the extent of systemic racism in American society. According to a Pew poll, nearly 40 percent of white Americans believe nothing needs to be done to address racism. Since the Civil Rights Act was passed nearly 60 years ago, racism must not exist. All Americans can now drink from the same water fountains, go to the same schools, and eat at the same restaurants. Some black people live in abject poverty, but so do some white people. Police may shoot black people, but they also shoot white people. Heck, we even have a black president. You might have a racist grandmother who still drops the n-word at Thanksgiving, but she is an exception. Racism’s last vestiges are outdated and do not pose a serious impediment to the African American community’s freedom. However, this outlook does not match reality. A quick survey of the relevant facts makes it abundantly clear that your experience in America is likely to be drastically different depending on your skin color and social class.

According to the Washington Post, a black person is 2.5 times more likely than a white person to be shot and killed by the police. An unarmed black person is five times as likely as an unarmed white per-son to be shot and killed. In 2014, blacks made up 12 percent of total population, but 36 percent of the prison population. Studies show that blacks receive harsher sentences than their white counterparts for similar crimes. To make matters worse, a clear racial disparity exists in economic measures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, black unemployment has been approximately 2.5 times higher than white unemployment since 1970. The disparity exists even when edu-cation levels are taken into consideration. The Pew Research Center’s data reveals that blacks lag behind whites in homeownership, house-hold wealth, median income, and many more indicators of economic well being. Based on the data, denying the existence of racial in-equality appears to be an untenable position.

The final claim addressed in this piece — that BLM promotes violence against police — is also flawed. Although there are a few highly publicized instances of a deranged individual who vaguely ties himself to the BLM cause attacking police officers, these events do not reflect the aims of BLM. Some protests do spiral into riots where protesters destroy property and people get injured. However, many of the looters are just criminals unaffiliated with BLM, using the confusion to further their personal interests. Judging BLM for the actions of a criminal minority would be like judging all Red Sox fans for the burnt cars and destroyed property following the team’s 2004 World Series victory. As for those who engage in violent actions and are affiliated with BLM, it is important to note that frustrated and disenfranchised people often feel they must resort to violence when confronting armed forces they view as the oppressor. Although violence is not condonable nor the solution in this case, their response should not undermine the movement’s largely peaceful nature. On BLM’s official website, there are no calls to riot and loot, no encouragement to kill police officers, and no violent rhetoric. The majority of people that associate with the movement are law-abiding citizens who limit their protests to peaceful means.

Historically, social change has been achieved through the type of peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience that BLM promotes. Nearly half a century ago, the Civil Rights Movement illustrated the merits of protest to promote equality. Rejecting BLM because all lives matter would be like ignoring Martin Luther King’s dream of a racially tolerant America because all dreams matter. We did not abandon the Civil Rights Movement because of the riots and social tension of the 1960s. We should not turn away from BLM now, especially when the movement’s opponents fail to propose compelling reasons for us to do so. Equality can be more than a laudable idea if we toil to make it a universal reality.

About the author

Daniel Banta

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  • Headhunter

    Most white people in this country will never understand or don’t care to try to understand that BLM’s matter, because that who they are. White police office are not being convicted for murdering black people because the power that be really believe that black lives doesn’t matter period.

    • ssn708

      You can shove that race card, and educate yourself. Police kill 2X as many White people as Black people every year, and you don’t hear hardly a word about it.

      • Daniel Banta

        Sorry ssn708. I just saw your comment. The first part of your claim (“Police kill 2x as many white people as black people” is correct. And that helps explain why black people are more likely to be shot (which is my point). First, the data on this is surprisingly absent. The government does not keep official statistics on the death toll. The best data available is kept by newspapers, such as the Guardian (total number of people shot) and the Washington Post (total number of people shot to death). I used data from the Washington Post’s database in my article (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/).

        So back to the question at hand and bear with with me, there’s going to be some math. Between January 1, 2015 and July 10, 2016, on-duty police officers had shot and killed 1,502 people. 732 were white and 381 were black (the last 382 were another or unknown race). So yes, white people make up a larger amount of the deaths (about 1.92x more). But you need to consider this; in July 2016, the population of the US was about 323,127,513. Of this, white people made up 76.9% of the population, and black people made up 13.3%(https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045216). In terms of numbers, there were about 284,485,057 white people and 42,975,959 black people. So, while the police kill 1.92x more white people, there are 6.62x more white people in society. This disparity is the problem!

        White people make up a bigger percentage of society, but in terms of the police shootings, they are proportionately less likely to be shot than a black person. Based on these numbers, black people are shot less in total numbers, but are 2.5x more likely to be shot when you consider that there are much less black people than white people.

        Here’s an analogy to help illustrate my point. Imagine a bag filled with 10,000 marbles. 7,000 of these marbles are white and 3,000 are black. If you selected 1,000 at random, you would expect to get around 700 white marbles and 300 black marbles. But if you only pulled out 550 white marbles and 450 black marbles, you’d be surprised. Even though there are still more white marbles than black ones, there are less whites ones than you’d expect based on the total population of marbles. Perhaps that it was just a fluke, so you keep doing the experiment. If the results kept coming back the same, you’d begin to wonder if there’s a bias in your selection process. Does that make sense? If you got lost in my explanation, feel free to ask a question.

  • ssn708

    You might have a scant point if police did not kill 2X as many Whites as Blacks every year.

  • ssn708

    I received a post from the author that is not showing up here. So I will re-post his comments and address them, as I think they are points well worth addressing. Daniel Banta wrote:
    “Sorry ssn708. I just saw your comment. The first part of your claim (“Police kill 2x as many white people as black people” is correct. And that helps explain why black people are more likely to be shot (which is my point). First, the data on this is surprisingly absent. The government does not keep official statistics on the death toll. The best data available is kept by newspapers, such as the Guardian (total number of people shot) and the Washington Post (total number of people shot to death). I used data from the Washington Post’s database in my article (https://www.washingtonpost…..
    So back to the question at hand and bear with with me, there’s going to be some math. Between January 1, 2015 and July 10, 2016, on-duty police officers had shot and killed 1,502 people. 732 were white and 381 were black (the last 382 were another or unknown race). So yes, white people make up a larger amount of the deaths (about 1.92x more). But you need to consider this; in July 2016, the population of the US was about 323,127,513. Of this, white people made up 76.9% of the population, and black people made up 13.3%(https://www.cens us.gov/quic…. In terms of numbers, there were about 284,485,057 white people and 42,975,959 black people. So, while the police kill 1.92x more white people, there are 6.62x more white people in society. This disparity is the problem!
    White people make up a bigger percentage of society, but in terms of the police shootings, they are proportionately less likely to be shot than a black person. Based on these numbers, black people are shot less in total numbers, but are 2.5x more likely to be shot when you consider that there are much less black people than white people.
    Here’s an analogy to help illustrate my point. Imagine a bag filled with 10,000 marbles. 7,000 of these marbles are white and 3,000 are black. If you selected 1,000 at random, you would expect to get around 700 white marbles and 300 black marbles. But if you only pulled out 550 white marbles and 450 black marbles, you’d be surprised. Even though there are still more white marbles than black ones, there are less whites ones than you’d expect based on the total population of marbles. Perhaps that it was just a fluke, so you keep doing the experiment. If the results kept coming back the same, you’d begin to wonder if there’s a bias in your selection process. Does that make sense? If you got lost in my explanation, feel free to ask a question.”
    *** Daniel:
    You are operating on some severely flawed logic, and selective facts. Far too often people making your argument do exactly as you are doing, use per capita only on a selective basis and ignore it when the facts are inconvenient to your argument. Black people are not “more likely” to be killed by police. Not by any measure. Here is a better analogy, more accurate to the situation:
    Based on your logic, if there are 1500 White men living on an island, and 100 Black men, and a hurricane comes and kills 1000 White men, and 90 Black men, hurricanes are of course far more dangerous for Black people, and Black people are far more “likely” to be killed by hurricanes!!! It’s literally the exact same argument. It is of course, a complete logical fallacy. Furthermore, your analogy assumes that events occur in a vacuum. If someone opened an office window and began randomly shooting at passersby, only then could you expect to see numbers representative of the local (not national) population. And even that would be further separated by variables such as income levels, likelihood of those of varying races being in “that neighborhood”, etc..
    The F.B.I. has in fact started keeping statistics on police shootings by race, but they have also been kept record by “The Counted”, and other resources, their methodology is as precise as currently possible. If anything it would be low on the side of Whites counted, since race is mentioned considerably more often when the victim is Black than White. So I will take those numbers as accurate measure, if underreported it is likely equally so.
    Now, if you actually HONESTLY apply the per capita metric, White people commit violent crimes at a rate of about 2/3 of their respective population. Black people commit violent crimes at a rate of about 5 times their respective populations. Now, these numbers are based on REPORTED crimes where the race of the offender was known, so this is not a result of the bias in the justice system and conviction rates, that is an argument for another time. So, Blacks are committing violent crimes at a rate nearly 6X that of Whites, per capita. Yet, by your estimate, Whites are only being shot 2.5 times as often, per capita. Your argument actually proves you are in fact twice as likely to be shot by a cop if you are White!! But the numbers I had make it a little closer to a 1-1 ratio when it comes down to police killings, per crime, per race. They are killing us at the same rate. Now if you really want to hold on to the selective per capita metric, Indian lives are the ones that really need the most protection. Using that fallacious and selective per capita argument they are simply exterminating the entire Indian race.
    The one variable that remains the same, the crime rate per race, is IDENTICAL to the poverty rate, per race. 2/3 the representative White population, 5X the representative Black population. Now, we can argue the inherent racism behind THAT, but again, that is an entirely different matter altogether. You are far more likely to be killed by police if you are POOR.

    • Gabriel Cole

      ^this is still dumb, even if it is true that, as a population, black people commit more crime. you shouldn’t be shot and killed for a committing a crime, if it can be helped, regardless of whether it is violent. that’s not how the criminal justice system is intended to function, and this is a main complaint of the black lives matter movement – police have become the judge, jury, and executioner.