I am frustrated when breath is wasted arguing about All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter in connection with Black Lives Matter, but another problem is slowly brewing in the black community, or maybe it’s always been there. The unspoken words that are said through the inaction of our so-called “Uppity Negroes” is simple:
Black Lives Matter… But My Black Life Matters More Than Yours
This is a sad truth that I am learning about in the black community. As my conservative upbringing is being challenged and I am becoming more familiar with the black justice movement, whether it’s the Austin Justice Coalition or Black Lives Matter. I find that many young black professionals, who are way more liberal and progressive than I am, are nowhere to be found. Young Black Professionals who grew up in way more diverse environments or predominately black areas are nowhere to be found. (I am from Lexington, Kentucky and it’s not exactly the most diverse place in the world). As I engage with more activists, I find it puzzling and wonder where are all the young black professionals are who rant and rave on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and lament to their friends in their Groupme’s and Slack groups about Police.
Where Art thou?
Since I have moved to Austin, three years ago, a city where more black people are steadily leaving, and young black millennials don’t want to be here, I find that segment of the population, to be self-absorbed and completely out of touch with not only reality, but with the suffering of black lives in Austin and across the country.
Why so Serious?
I have been an avid volunteer for one of the largest non-profit organizations here in Austin, a predominantly white city, but the non-profit serves a high percentage of black and brown kids. Many of the children who live in Austin that are below the poverty line are Hispanic and Black. They need mentors, they need successful people who look like them, but time and time again, I am the only black volunteer. Trying to get young black professionals to give their TIME OR MONEY is like pulling teeth. But they are the first to buy tickets for any concert, ready to spend money on drinks, and go to Happy Hour after Happy Hour trying to find a significant other in a city where it is hard to do. Then the deaths of young black men and women across the country began to be more public, either filmed or sound recorded, and the Black Lives Matter Movement was born.
These same inactive millennials, they “feel” for the movement, “cry” about the movement. Because we all know a person who could’ve been Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, or even Freddie Gray. But they don’t do anything. They don’t go to marches, don’t donate their time, and the best part is that they take the time to criticize activists for being too radical, too loud, or not creating enough solutions when the reality is that if maybe they were at the table, with all of their skills, with more educated black folks, finding solutions might be a little easier. While it is easy to blame many of the generational curses that plague the black community on others, we are still are own worst enemy.
To me, the reality is that these “Uppity Negroes”, by their inaction are saying that THEIR Black Life Matters more. I say this and I am an Uppity Negro, and proud of it. But I am in the trenches, and I want you to be there with me. I get it. When you grow up middle or upper middle class, there is a level of comfort that you enjoy, and maintaining that comfort or improving upon that comfort is your main goal. That is all our white counterparts have to worry about. Guess what? YOUR. ARE. NOT. THEM.
The reality I want to leave you with is that the comfort you hold so near and dear to your heart is made possible, because your parents or caregivers didn’t make that one mistake, didn’t have that one tragedy in their life, or whatever else it may have been that you are here, and you are not them. Trust me you are not as removed from the toils of your people as you would like to think. Because no one talks about the fact that there are very few victims of police brutality that are in the “Uppity Negro” status. It is classism at its finest, and we have to stop acting like it’s not happening. If you woke up in a different position or circumstance, you might think differently and wonder why black folks who’ve “made” it, are nowhere to be found. We spend a lot of time trying to convince people, especially white people, why all lives matter is not cool, but what we really need to do is remind black people, that when you say Black Lives Matter, saying those words mean nothing, if you do nothing.
You can read more from Jackie-Monroe at missingperspective.com
Also published on Medium.