“Blue Lives” Don’t Matter Because Blue Lives Don’t Exist » VSB

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“Blue Lives” Don’t Matter Because Blue Lives Don’t Exist

During the Q&A section of a panel I was on a few months ago, a person in the audience made the requisite “I’m not on the panel but I’m gonna stand here and hijack the panel conversation” five-minute, pre-question statement some people at panels have the tendency to do, and then asked the single dumbest question I’d ever heard in my life:

“So, what about blue lives? Do they matter?”

It was time to go.

Echoing the sentiment expressed by the question voiced at the panel, this weekend a nine-year-old boy organized a Blue Lives Matter March just outside of Chicago, Illinois. I suspect this child is the victim of what Bomani Jones calls insufficient daddyin’.

Each time I hear a person say ‘blue lives matter,’ I walk away with a lower estimation of their critical thinking abilities.  They have clearly not thought through the logical implications of the statement. So, before you embarrass yourself by asking a similar question to a panelist, go on Facebook and post something trifling, or organize a march to put on blast just how insufficient you are in your thinking, let me explain why you should never say blue lives matter.

1: It’s a logical fallacy aka you sound dumb as hell

Look. When you say, ‘Blue lives matter’ in response to “Black lives matter,’ you’re treating the former as though it is the same as the latter.  That is, as though blue lives are equivalent to Black lives. I get it. You mean to say that those who wear blue as a symbol of their occupation matter. They do, but here is the problem: blue lives (whatever the hell that means) and Black lives are not the same.

A false equivalence is “describing a situation where there appears to be a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none.” In other words, you say something comparing two things when there is, in reality, no comparison. Yes, people who wear blue matter. Postal Workers, folks in the United States Air Force; Snoop Dogg; University of North Carolina Tarheels and police officers matter. But to say that the lives of people choosing to wear blue is the same as those whose histories and existential experiences are colored daily by the fact that they inhabit Black bodies is about as dumb as saying that the five best rappers in the game are Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, and Dylan—cuz he spits hot fire.

2: It’s rooted in anti-blackness aka you sound racist as hell

Like All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter is a reactionary statement. It’s an attempt to refute a claim to dignity made by those who proclaim that Black lives matter.  Yet, unlike Black Lives Matter, no one feels compelled to say the adjective ‘all’ in response to ‘blue.’ Why? Easy answer: anti-Blackness.

There is a deeply rooted flippancy toward the concerns of Black people in this country, and the statement ‘blue lives matter’ is an American original. The statement reminds me of the use of the Confederate Flag in response to the Civil Rights movement. It is an attempt to silence the voices of Black people. If real recognize real, then Donald Trump is looking at you like y’all on a first name basis.

3: They don’t exist aka what the hell is you talking about?

With all due respect (which means I’m about to say some disrespectful ish), what the hell are you talking about? Seriously. What the hell is a blue life? 

Do me a favor, if you ever run across a blue life, kill it. Don’t hesitate. Sentient blue beings are not supposed to exist—unless this is Avatar. And even in that movie White folks were outchea on that genocide, so blue lives didn’t even matter then.

When the person in the audience asked that question, I couldn’t wait to respond. I leaned forward and said, “Thank you for you question, but blue lives don’t matter.” After a gasp from the audience, I added, “Because they don’t exist.”

I would have dropped the mic, but it was attached to a stand.

Law W.

Lawrence Ware is a philosopher of race at his day job and writes if the kids go to bed on time. He is a contributing editor of NewBlackMan (in Exile) and a frequent contributor to The Root and other publications. He has been featured in the New York Times and you can sometimes find him discussing race and politics on HuffPost Live and Public Radio International. He is the kind of Steelers fan that enjoys watching the Cowboys lose.

  • Glo

    I was trying to explain this to someone the other day. While a cop can always quit his job (and, therefore, quit being “blue”), none of us can turn off our blackness. They are not equivalent.

    • Ger Wil

      This! And when they start talking about “risking their life” and “put themselves in danger every day” and “oh, the sacrifices that they make”. Just, NO. The police forces are neither equivalent to nor synonymous with the armed services. They are ALL volunteers. You choose to do that job. And, honestly, if more of them were better at really developing the skills of that chosen profession, they would find their lives in way less *impending/ever-present* danger.

      • ladyfresh

        Paid volunteers. Saw that Carl Thomas video? Makes a difference. its highly likely they would not be doing those jobs with healthy union protection if it did not support their families. (though veterans benefits really need to be way way better)

      • Seriously, to even put quotes around that stuff shows ignorance. The entirety of a police officers job is not dealing with drug dealers. They are first responders and every time they get called to a house, a traffic stop etc. etc. they have no idea what kind of situation they’re going into. Their lives are in danger every day.

        You can argue about the disgusting abuse of power and horrific loss of life at the hands of officers who are reckless and hateful but don’t diminish the job they do. That’s not helping the argument, it makes us look irrational.

        • Question

          Their lives being in danger every day means what? That we can not and should not expect that the practices and protocol that governs their operation should not be open to public scrutiny and questioning when we disagree with the outcomes?

          You ignore that police officers not only volunteer for their posts (as do members of the armed services, currently) but they volunteer for their assignments (the communities that they serve, the patrols that they take and the trajectory of their careers). They, unlike the armed services, have the option to say No. The element of choice and free-will should not be disregarded.

          And perhaps if practices and policies changed to some degree, we might be able to reduce or remove SOME (even a small part) of the danger that their job entails. The two are not mutually exclusive.

        • Beauty In Truth

          Womp, womp. FAIL.

      • Bick

        The armed services are all volunteers too…

    • LMNOP

      Also, we show a life matters by punishing a person who ends that life. So as a society we ARE showing that police lives matter, in a way that we DONT show that Black lives matter.

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    • Question

      Plus, when has BLM ever said that cop and police lives DONT matter? I need you (general) to take a step back. This is not police vs black people, because there are people whose lives are both Black and Blue.

      And that’s where the conversation stops for me – as soon as people start asserting that BLM is somehow anti-police, I stop. End of conversation. No thank you. Go away.

      • Glo

        “because there are people whose lives are both Black and Blue.” THANK YOU. Every time this debate comes up, people are like, “I’m sorry, I just feel strongly about this because I have friends and family in the police force,” and they’re always surprised when I say I do, too. I don’t know why there is this idea that being a cop and being black are mutually exclusive.

        • Question

          Plus, I think reducing BLM’s goal to Black people vs cops is dismissive. BLM and Black people dial 911 just like everyone else. We pay taxes and contribute to their paychecks and lifelong pensions like everyone else. So this notion that somehow Black folks or BLM are against cops is nonsense.

        • Blueberry01

          I just think they are surprised that you have something in common with them.

          Please cue their reaction when you tell them you have a degree….gasp, even two or three!

          • Hyde Kholin

            Being hateful like that is part of the problem, Blueberry.

            • Maudrian Mychelle

              How is what blueberry says is “hateful”?

            • Blueberry01

              I’m sorry that my truth offended you.

      • “as soon as people start asserting that BLM is somehow anti-police …”
        Probably because of multiple videos like this being around:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIr-B686kog

        It’s funny to me as a fair-minded person (few of us out there) how the Tea Party and BLM have the same issues of outsiders thinking their motive is hate, refuting that idea, but clearly having idiotic hate-mongers as part of their group.

        It happens in any movement, but it’s disproportionate to the aims of the group at large. Don’t ignore someone who brings it up, explain it to them … otherwise it looks like we condone or flat out ignore that this stuff has attached itself to the movement.

        • Question

          So a group that neither recruits and nor has membership policies or practices is responsible for people who claim to do things in their name?

          And how was the individual pictured above determined to be a “Protest Leader”?

          • mo problems

            So a group that neither recruits and nor has membership policies or practices is responsible for people who claim to do things in their name?

            well thats one of the problems your organization *or lack there of* has is it?

            • Question

              That’s silly. Membership isn’t necessary to support, donate or participate. People don’t need to join the American Cancer Society, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or the Wounded Warrior Project to support their causes. And people didn’t need to join some overarching “Civil Rights Group” in order to support its demands and calls for justice.

          • Meghan Courtright

            Obviously not representative of every member or supporter of BLM, but in Toronto and Vancouver BLM demanded police not be allowed a float in the parade. I understand why BLM exists and why the group is necessary. There have undeniably been many instances of abuse of power by police. I don’t understand the request to exclude the police from the pride parade.

            • Question

              If you really care to find out the reason, google it – I’m sure there was a very clear explanation.

          • It’s obvious to us they don’t represent the movement, but just like how Trump didn’t denounce David Duke, how there isn’t a huge outcry from some Muslim leaders to denounce ISIS (or that the media show us), the lack of BLM leaders speaking out against something like this and saying “We don’t stand for that, let me make that clear” … it is funny to a fair minded person.

            Note: I say fair-minded. Which means I’m not looking at things from a side, I’m seeing the forest not the trees. I may have sympathies that lean towards BLM but I cannot ignore how others who aren’t so inclined see us when they simply don’t know.

            • Question

              Why should BLM people have to speak out against rare and infrequent occurrences? There are hundreds of BLM events going on at any one time – the fact that the ones with violence are the only ones making the news does not make them representative of the organization or its people.

              Secondly, BLM has spoken out against the violence – multiple times.
              Just as Mulsims around the world have spoken out against ISIS – multiple times.

              You aren’t listening. You aren’t listening because you don’t want to listen, because its more convenient for you to assume that the two are closely related (organizations you don’t like and violence) when they are clearly and obviously NOT.

      • Beauty In Truth

        (Snaps and claps)

      • ButtercupKelley

        You mean besides the times when they were actively calling for the assassination of police? “Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon.” and, “What do we want, Dead Cops! When do we want em? NOW!”

    • King Beauregard

      1) Nobody anywhere is treating the police like their lives don’t matter. Well, some criminals might be an exception, but …

      2) when a police officer is injured or killed, we follow the criminals to the ends of the earth, and we see that they are punished.

      Black Lives Matter is about how the police are more willing to kill blacks, but beyond that, the system protects those policemen when they do. The police close ranks, the prosecutor often throws the case, and the media is guaranteed to report on the killing of a black person like they probably had it coming (either they were career criminals or they provoked the cop).

      Our society empowers the police to enforce our laws and protect our citizens. When the police are not doing their job correctly — when a big segment of society is at indefensible risk from the police — that’s not just a matter of a few people bad at their job, it’s an indictment of the entire system. It’s not so visible when you’re white, but our justice system is anything but just, if you’ve got the wrong skin tone.

    • Mochasister

      Excellent point.

  • NomadaNare

    The thing that always struck me about this particular response to #BLM was that somehow the safe keeping of black lives became antithetical to the police or in a more abstract sense law and order itself

    I think this in itself suggests something significantly more devious than outright flippancy and attempts to silence

    • Tambra
    • It’s because if Black Lives are safe, we are free to socialize and work where we please. While wealthy Whites can buy their way out of this exposure, working class Whites can’t run from their fears of miscegenation. I find their fears repugnant, but let’s not front like it’s only poor and working class White people are racist.

      • NomadaNare

        You think all of this comes down to miscegenation

        That seems a bit farfetched unless a sizable portion of the American population is viciously white supremacist

        • Well, there’s the fact that White men with a HS diploma or less (and whose numbers closely match the Black and Latin vote in the electorate) are like 85% for Trump. I might be exaggerating the effects, but it’s not completely BS either. People have rightly accused Trump of many things, but a vote rigger isn’t among them.

    • Val

      “The thing that always struck me about this particular response to #BLM
      was that somehow the safe keeping of black lives became antithetical to
      the lives of police officers or in a more abstract sense law and order
      itself.”

      Great analysis, NN.

    • Ger Wil

      “The thing that always struck me about this particular response to #BLM was that somehow the safe keeping of black lives became antithetical to the lives of police officers or in a more abstract sense law and order itself”

      Thanks! So on point.

      As if finally ending the brutalization of black people equates to the utter demise of policing as a whole. As though policing *just cannot* be done in the absence of brutality. Imagining that any living and safe black body is just a vessel, bound directly for the destruction of some/any/every blue *life* out there.

      • NomadaNare

        “Imagining that any living and safe black body is just a vessel, bound directly for the destruction of some/any/every blue *life* out there.”

        Precisely

        How did this overarching fear of safe black folks become the official narrative

        Is this War on Drugs/Black Criminality rhetoric

        If so does this mean that they believe all black folk are on drugs or criminals

        Anyway you slice it leads to some pretty troublesome thoughts that I think black folk understand intuitively

        • Ger Wil

          “If so does this mean that they believe all black folk are on drugs or criminals”

          Short answer: YES.

          That’s what I hear every time 2520 say “oh youre not like them” “youre so well spoken” “youre one of the good ones” “well my neighbors, they’re not *black* black” “well Ger he’s black, but he’s cool, tho”

          It’s as if our factory default is “dumb hood ninj@” and we have to try extra hard to become these fully assimilated quasi-yts, with all of the respectability that entails. And once we achieve that status we are no longer *regular* blacks. But, then that “overarching fear” that you mentioned comes out the moment that they re-realize that you are, indeed, black and proud of it.

          It’s the same logic from “Kill Bill Vol. 2” analysis of Batman vs Superman.

  • Nik White

    “Thank you for the question…Because they don’t exist”. That was worth the price of the ticket!

  • fedup

    Even all “blue” lives don’t matter. A white cop who takes off the blue uniform is still white, and protected to the nine. A Black cop who takes off his uniform ceases to be a “Blue life” to anyone other than the people who who know him, subject to all the race-based treatment that all the rest of us Black lives are subject to daily. And there are many instances of where they have told other “blue lives” that, they too, are “blue”, only to be ignored, because in this world, yo Black azz skin trumps all else.

  • Sick of having this conversation with the willfully ignorant. I refuse it at this point.

    • If someone comes at you with #bluelivesmatter nonsense, then it means they do not believe in black political equality in the first place. Chuck the deuces and move on.

      https://hhharris.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/manufactured-symmetries/

    • Blueberry01

      I’m with you. Every day is another person’s ignorance that we have to slay…

    • Mochasister

      Sometimes you have to disengage for your mental health. There’s an article written by Zuckerberg Linly about this very thing. He basically writes that it’s time for Blacks to stop talking to whites about racism. Predictably some of them were angry about that and called him racist.

      • Diego Duarte

        There’s absolutely no winning in this issue. Whites claim that society is past racism, there’s no racism. None whatsoever. Unless it’s coming from blacks…

        “Blacks are the most racist”. Because apparently calling out racial discrimination is racism or, as they’ve taken to calling it “race baiting”.

        It’s like bashing your head against a wall of “stupid” over and over again.

        • Mochasister

          No, there is no winning.

  • BJenks

    Would have love to been in that room.

  • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

    “……..red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight…..”

    Nope, no blue found…..

    • Tambra

      Don’t worry the new version shall include blue.

      • Epsilonicus

        REMIX!

      • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

        LOL

    • LMNOP

      I hate this song SO much, they sing it at my job, but I refuse to teach kids this, red and yellow?!? Seriously? You could keep the same tune and sing Brown and Asian, Black and White

      • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

        Well, I love the song and what it represents. It wasn’t about being politically correct…..or not. The point is, Jesus loves us all. Whether that’s framed as brown or Asian or red and yellow. The meaning is the same. I would sing it the same today. As long as BLUE ain’t added because blue don’t exist.

        • LMNOP

          I am clearly the minority opinion here, since the song hasn’t changed, but red and yellow are racist ways to refer to people. The idea of the song is nice though.

          • Tambra

            ” The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate. He made them high and lowly and ordered their estate”. That verse has been eliminated from that hymn I think . So anything is possible

          • Kas

            We have a professional NFL team with red I’m the name and the deplorables have no problem with referring to people as yellow. I do think you are being overly sensitive.

            • Val

              The “deplorables” is what we’re calling them now? Lol

              • Kas

                It’s what I’m calling them.

                • ladyfresh

                  i think i’m going with ‘the deplorables’ thanks!

                  • Tambra

                    It’s a badge of honour for them now.

            • LMNOP

              I’ll take that over being insensitive any day.

              • Kas

                I was being sarcastic. Hard to tell in the comment section some days.

                • LMNOP

                  Oh, okay, well good, I’m glad you weren’t being serious!

                  • Kas

                    I read your response, and realized we weren’t on the same page. I’m surprised you would take anything I say seriously though.

          • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

            Nope, can’t agree. But yeah, nice song.

  • BJenks

    Ima just have to leave this be for now before I get any more frustrated. It pisses me off that people’s first response a statement about how our people have been and still are being mistreated, disrespected, etc. is to completely ignore that fact and deflect and say “what about so and so?”. Like, its not even like “yes i recognize the mistreatment of black lives and it’s despicable and we should do something about it, but what about so and so.” They don’t even acknowledge it bruh.

  • Lisss

    You’re better than me. Cause i would have just ignored his retarded *ss.

    I will let M. Linly describe my current state of mind.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/09/07/its-time-to-stop-talking-about-racism-with-white-people/?utm_term=.7d5c98b10d94

  • MissusMaxwell

    Blue lives matter for soundbites. Dassit. Black folks simply say ‘stop killing us’ and ohhhhh, blue lives matter, we gotta protect the police, how dare you criticize Officer Trigger Finger for gunning down someone just for being Black, blah, blah, blah. But then these same blue lives are like hey, we got raggelly squad cars, the jail is being held together with old bubble gum and gorilla glue, and we got 5 officers patrolling 9 hunnid leventy thousand square miles and 4 of those officers are about to retire so we need funding from the public and it’s like *crickets*. And living in the grand old, shoot ’em up state of Missouri, blue lives don’t mean s h i t since blue lives across the state were like ummm, naw, we don’t need any & errr’body to just carry guns and legislators were like shhhhhh, y’all don’t know what y’all are talmbout. All of those blue lives matter folks can kiss my duckin & dodgin a s s.

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