Conservatives have spent much time and effort discrediting Black Lives Matter, but not enough time reflecting on the failings that created a space for the organization to become so influential.
Black Lives Matter openly advocates for causes and beliefs that are in direct opposition to values that Christians and conservatives hold as sacred or foundational. They seek, for example, to dismantle biblical views of sexuality, gender, and family, and to overturn traditional American economic and governmental systems.
There’s nothing wrong with pointing these things out, but if you only point out what you think is wrong with them without addressing the question of why they are so powerful, you’re not going to win the battle for America’s future that is currently raging — and escalating.
Some people who participate in BLM marches and protests are unaware of the details of the organization. To many, black lives matter is a statement of support for efforts to fight injustice against black people.
Others know what BLM is all about. Many of them may even disagree with some of it. But they march and protest anyway, because their primary concern isn’t unanimous agreement with every single organizational value; their primary concern is preventing the next George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin…the list goes on.
Black Lives Matter won the influence it has in our society because there was a big issue — violence against black people, especially by law enforcement officers — and BLM showed up to address it. And because so many people in this country had been waiting and searching for a movement to address this issue, they were eager to get on board.
There were plenty of opportunities for others to fill that void. Republicans could’ve made it a priority, but too few of them were willing to risk upsetting voters by being critical of policing in this country. Evangelicals could’ve addressed it, but too few of the most influential leaders in that movement were willing to speak on racism on Sunday morning or to utilize their significant resources to attack the problem.
Look how Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Republican senator, was treated when he tried to push police reform. Look how Sen. Mitt Romney, a recent Republican presidential nominee, was treated when he simply marched in a protest. Attempts by establishment Republicans to acknowledge or solve race-based problems is met with mockery or hatred from other conservatives.
Black Lives Matter didn’t just pop up out of nowhere in May 2020. An entire community of people in this country has been desperate for someone to take seriously their grievances about police brutality and racism for years. If you choose to leave that need unmet, you can’t complain when you don’t like the people who decide to meet it.
While we were hurting and angry over the death of Ahmaud Arbery, prominent conservatives were using their energy to make sure we knew he might have committed a minor, nonviolent crime before he was chased down and murdered in the street.
While we were outraged that Breonna Taylor was dead, the conservative media machine reminded us that she may have been passively involved in some drug deals before police officers broke down her door and sprayed bullets into her home in the middle of the night.
When we were mourning the loss of George Floyd, conservatives with huge platforms prioritized the investigation of his past to tell us that he was no angel in the years before a police officer choked the life out of him in broad daylight.
Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter was on the ground in these cities, mobilizing people who were desperate to take any sort of action to change their situation.
When it comes to black issues, conservatives are always prioritizing the wrong battles. Too busy fighting the latest media narrative to actually solve problems. So you think BLM is hijacking racial issues to promote Marxist or anti-Christian ideals? Maybe if you worked to fix those racial issues, they wouldn’t be so ripe for exploitation. When people get desperate enough for solutions, they’ll accept them in whatever form they take.
If conservatives want to continue viewing racism and police brutality as someone else’s problems, or insist that they’re not problems at all, they can do that. But closing your eyes doesn’t make an issue disappear, and when you finally open them again, you might not like what you see.