UPinion: Why “Black Lives Matter” Matters

BY AJ Sidransky (@AJSidransky)

I’m white. Okay, I said it. For me it doesn’t matter. But, knowing full well what the advantages of being “white” are (see: white privilege) I try really hard to understand what life is like for people of color.

My best friend is a dark skinned Latino man. His life is different from mine exactly for that reason. A couple of years back, at the time when Black Lives Matter was born he was stopped and frisked on Lexington Avenue and East 73rd St while working. Why? Because he was a black man on the very white Upper East Side.

When he told me about this a couple days later I was more upset about it than he was. My very white response was “Did you get the officer’s name and badge number?” He laughed and told me he didn’t want any trouble with the cops. And there you have it. I never have to be afraid of cops; people of color have to think twice. Why? Because all too often if a person of color confronts the police they will be shot. “It’s just a fact of life,” my buddy told me, “and that’s what I tell my kids, don’t ever challenge the cops, just do what they say. I don’t want to bury you.” I don’t have to tell my son that.

Now I could go on about this for some time but let’s get back to the matter at hand, Black Lives Matter. I was perusing Facebook a few weeks back and I saw something that infuriated me. It was a photo. The photo was of a crowd of people assembled somewhere in the US to protest the killing of a police dog in some admittedly unfortunate incident. One of the protesters carried a sign that said “Dogs Lives Matter”. This has gone just too far.

I didn’t like it when the response was “All Lives Matter.” There was a certain amount of political politeness that dictated one should just not comment. I was even more incensed when the response became “Blue Lives Matter” because while I have friends who are cops and I write about cops in my novels and I understand that they put their lives on the line everyday they A) do that by choice and B) the real message behind Blue Lives Matter is to say “f-ck you” to those in the African American community who would stand up and say “ENOUGH”.

But, Dogs Lives Matter is just like saying “A Black person is worth less than a dog.” I can’t abide that. A “Black Life”, is a HUMAN LIFE. Let’s not devalue it. Rather let’s try to understand the hopelessness and hopefulness behind the experience.

A J Sidransky is an author. He lives in Washington Heights. Two of his books, FORGIVING MAXIMO ROTHMAN and FORGIVING MARIELA CAMACHO are set in Washington Heights. Learn more about him at www.ajsidransky.com


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