Editorial: Will Black Lives Still Matter in ’15?

Editorial: Will Black Lives Still Matter in ’15?
January 01
00:00 2015

“Hands Up,” “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” have become ubiquitous, a rallying cry for legions disheartened and dismayed by excessive police violence and society’s willingness to turn a blind eye to it.

Black shirts with stark white letters proclaiming, “I Can’t Breathe” – said to be the last words of NYPD victim Eric Garner – are regularly sported by professional athletes during pre-game warm-ups and film and music stars on red carpets.

“Hands Up,” the stance Michael Brown is said to have had when Ferguson, Mo. cop Darren Wilson fired bullet-after-bullet into him, commandeered social media a few weeks ago, with everyone from college students to Congressional aides posing for photos with their hands raised.

Such forms of silent protest, coupled with the more traditional marching and chanting rallies, have been largely hailed. Old school Civil Rights leaders – folks who stood beside Dr. King and endured the sting of water hoses – have praised millennials for finally rising from their long slumber to take a stand for something that is not superficial. This new movement, this call for respect and repudiation of norms that have long placed African-Americans in a lower tier of citizenship, has drawn comparisons to other civil revolutions and harkened back to prophetic words spoken decades ago by Dr. King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and others.

As we begin a new year, we shall see if the “Black Lives Matter” movement has steam – if it is a one-hit wonder or a superstar, Greg Oden or Jordan. Movements aren’t for sprinters. It took marathoners to see the Montgomery Bus Boycott, voting rights and sit-ins through. Racism is odious to the core; it’s malignant and infects every nook of our system. Waging war against it requires equal vigilance, a sustained fight with dedicated generals and soldiers. Racism doesn’t take a day off, so neither can its foes.

It’s too early to know if those involved in this current movement know how much effort is required to push through real change. Are they willing to go to the polls and vote en masse? Could they boycott their favorite stores and brands? Can they speak truth to power?

If they can’t or are disinterested in doing so, this juggernaut of a movement will simply become a meme – a social media hashtag that will quickly wither and rest in that over-populated cyber-grave. The “I Can’t Breathe” shirt will be but a mere fashion accessory, something catchy to wear with jeans and $200 sneakers.

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