It’s very simple, Black Lives Matter.
Three words, nothing complicated about it, black people simply fighting for equality in a world that has ignored us for centuries.
From when my mother came to England as a Windrush kid, her black life didn’t matter. The day I was born, my black life didn’t matter. When I was first stopped by the police in my car as a teenager, my black life didn’t matter. While Rodney King was being assaulted by the LA Police in 1991, his black life didn’t matter. The same goes for Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Terence Crutcher, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
1,944 black people were killed by the police in the US between 2013 and 2019. From those cases, just three per-cent of officers were charged with less than a one per-cent conviction rate. Black lives have never mattered.
But this is not just a problem for black people in America.
Let us not forget that in the UK if you are Black, Asian or minority ethnic, you are more than twice as likely to leave police custody in a body bag than your white counterpart. Black people account for 3% of the population, but 8% of deaths in custody. Christopher Alder‘s life didn’t matter. Neither did Sean Rigg‘s, Kingsley Burrell‘s, Darren Cumberbatch‘s, or Rashan Charles‘.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, there were four stop and searches for every 1,000 white people, and 38 for every for 1,000 black people. The Sentencing Council published a report in January that revealed for the BAME community the odds are 40%-50% higher that their ethnicity will contribute to sentencing decisions.
The Lammy Review proved that if you put a white man and a BAME man in the same predicament with the same previous history, with the same or similar evidence, the BAME man was more likely to be stopped, arrested, charged, denied bail, convicted and sentenced to prison.
The numbers don’t lie, they back up the facts that black lives don’t matter.
Those three words (Black Lives Matter) are about the colour of our skin, the fight for our lives, not how we vote at elections.
I urge anyone who joins us in the fight for respect, justice and equality not to be swayed by calls of “Marxist”, “radical left” or “cancel culture”. This has been brought about by calls by the Black Lives Matter organisation to defund the police.
The UK has the second-largest police budget per capita in Europe and last month announced the building of four new prisons costing £4.5bn. According to the HM Treasury, the total bill for UK criminal justice system for 2018-19 was £28.8bn. That is more than the Conservative government spent on the environment, primary education, social care and social housing. So if some police funds were diverted away to tackling those areas, would that be such a bad thing?
Some will disagree and that is their choice, but that still cannot detract from the core issue of racism black people continually suffer from. The BLM organisation has its own political ideas but supporting the movement doesn’t mean that you are a Marxist calling to defund the police, rather, you want black lives to be valued the same as white lives. In school, in housing, by the police, in job opportunities and in pay.
Again, if you feel wrongs from the past should be corrected by tearing down statues of slave traders in Bristol or Confederate statues in the American south, that is your choice. But do not get bogged down in cancel culture debates, again the establishment and their foot soldiers want us to lose focus.
And I say establishment because that is what it is.
From the moment Africans were taken as slaves, we were dehumanised, treated as sub-human as white slave masters shipped us around the world to build the world and economy now in place. The system in place now built on the back of slaves was not made for slaves or their ancestors to prosper, it never had them in mind, it was built for slave masters and their ancestors.
Has there been a more powerful sight than Premier League players taking the knee before kick-off with their names on the back of their shirts replaced with Black Lives Matter? Well done to Troy Deeney and Wes Morgan who were the driving forces behind this.
But the Premier League now have to fly solo and help drive change within football and outside the game. Players have continued taking the knee before games despite some within society having a problem with this.
Again, this is about control, telling people they can protest, but on their terms.
This is how the NFL ostracised Colin Kaepernick.
Also, how right-wing commentators poured scorn against Black Lives Matter protests during a pandemic citing the lack of social distancing while others were packing out beaches.
Despite this, the Premier League have held their nerve and not conflated the politics of the Middle East and defunding police with the racism suffered by black people. But while the protests are powerful, the real measure of football’s support for the movement will be seen when there’s a fairer representation of black managers and coaching staff, of decision makers, of match day officials.
And to all those who say “All lives matter”.
That’s right, but all lives can’t matter if black lives don’t matter.
But black lives don’t matter, so all lives can’t matter.
So when black lives do matter, then all lives will matter.