The deeply disturbing fallacies of the “blue lives matter” argument.
If you’ve been paying attention to the world around you, you are well aware that America is currently up in arms about the brutal murder of unarmed Black people by police. However, it’s not just about one murder, it’s about 400 years of institutionalized and systemic racism. The Black Lives Matter movement has always received backlash using a variety of arguments from “blue lives matter” to “all lives matter” all the way to “there is only one race, the human race”. But ignoring the reality of the trauma and systemic racism of being Black in America is also ignoring any possible solution.
The “blue lives” matter argument is the most irrelevant argument to date, simply because “blue lives” do not exist. Cops willingly choose their profession and when they finish their shift they can clock out, go home, take their uniform off, and continue with their lives. You can walk by an off-duty or undercover cop and not even know what their job is.
There is a stark difference between Black lives and “blue lives”, one exists and the other does not.
I can’t believe I have to say this but being a policeman/policewoman is a job, it is not a race. Black people can not go home and not be Black anymore; they did not willingly choose to be a Black person. They were born Black, they will live their lives as Black people, and they will die Black. There is a stark difference between Black lives and “blue lives”, one exists and the other does not.
Saying “blue lives matter” is a mockery to the Black Lives Matter movement — it is not a movement within itself. It attempts to make working in law enforcement a social identity that is equivalent to race, and that’s just never going to be a thing.
Jonathan Russel explains it best, “To act as if such a vocation bears, or should bear, the kind of deep identity significance and source of solidarity that someone’s black racial identity plays is to treat an occupation with too much significance.”
Thus, one can understand the simple fact that being a policeman/policewoman is a choice whereas being Black is not a choice.
One of the most blatant wrongdoings of the “blue lives matter” argument is that it is a lie. It misconstrues history; Black lives have always lived under erasure, they have always been systemically criminalized, abused, and enslaved. “Blue lives” have never lived under erasure, they have never been considered less than, and in fact being a cop in itself was and is a vocation that has always been considered above Black lives.
Take the police force as a whole, for example; the modern-day police force was first enacted as slave patrols. They never even existed as “police” until the slaves were freed and they needed to protect white people and white property. The police exist because white people are afraid of retaliation for 400 years of injustice, not because police have been, in any way, erased or considered less than any other human being. The “blue lives matter” argument exists to continue the erasure of the plethora of ways that cops have systemically and institutionally criminalized Black people.
Lastly, saying that “blue lives” matter completely misconstrues the reality of living as a police officer. Police officers are generally respected, offered free drinks and meals, and can get away with literally anything. I mean, the reason that we are up in arms right now is that cops brutally murdered George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Most of these cops are either out on bail or they have not served any time or suffered any repercussions whatsoever.
This is not new — it has been happening since the establishment of the police force. Cops have always been privy to privilege — and that right there is the massive misunderstanding of the “blue lives matter” argument: Black people are not privy to privilege, they are systemically oppressed and they always have been.
Blue lives are not lives at all, being a policeman is not an identity it is a vocation. The next time you hear somebody say that “blue lives matter” or you see a “blue lives matter” sign being held up at a counterprotest, be sure to call them out. Understand that this argument is deeply rooted in systemic racism and white supremacy and work to educate yourself and others on how deeply damaging arguments like these are.