“But what about black-on-black crime?” is a common counter-argument to Black Lives Matter. This argument is simplistic and attempts to cherry-pick a fact. It ignores systemic poverty in the black community, the disproportionate impact of the Vietnam war, and the ongoing legacy of black lives NOT mattering in America.
Slavery is pretty obvious. Black lives were mere chattel; to be bought, sold, moved, beaten, raped, and killed with impunity by whites for about 400 years. When this finally ended, reparations were not made to the freed slaves and their descendants. In fact, while emancipated, these African Americans were codified as second-class citizens for the next one hundred years. Black lives did not matter.
Blacks born in the 1960s were the first in this country to experience full citizenship. Think about that. Plenty of living African Americans did not know the full protection of citizenship until their adulthood. Black lives did not matter.
Black men were grossly over-represented in the ranks of the US Military during the Vietnam War. They experienced racism at home, overseas, and at home again. They returned to communities still mired in poverty and were overly damaged by drug epidemics. Higher poverty leads to higher crime. Black lives did not matter.
Black children are punished more severely than white children for the same infractions, this is what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Black lives do not matter.
People with “black sounding” names must submit twice as many resumes to get a call back as “white sounding” names with similar qualifications. Black lives do not matter.
Black people convicted of crimes are punished more harshly than their white counterparts. Black people are more than twice as likely to be shot by police than white people. Black lives don’t matter.
The US has been telling black people that their lives don’t matter since before the US was a country, we shouldn’t be surprised if a community treated thusly has an internal violence problem. More importantly, we (white people) must understand that while black on black crime is terrible for the black community, police killings of blacks (wherein the officers nearly always walk) rubs salt in an old and festering wound; that is, in the eyes of the US Justice system, black lives don’t matter, and never have.
As a people, white people do not have the moral standing to criticize the black community. We have a moral and historical obligation to right the wrongs we and our forbears have perpetrated. This is not about feeling guilty, this is about owning the truth. If we start there, we have a chance to re-balance the scales.