Name that Martyr

One particularly irksome dynamic regarding the BLM movement is that its martyrs are chosen for it. By this I mean the semi-random institutional murders we’ve witnessed lo these 400 years. It’s a galling twist piled atop everything else that these oppressors, by their very semi-random aggression, all but name the martyrs. Totally without care, these people create the face of a movement.

Like a rapist being entitled to name his victim’s baby. This is one of the sicker aspects of White privilege. Garbage man or brain surgeon, if you’re Black your name can, haphazardly and in a heartbeat, be added to the ever lengthening tally of the murdered. If you’re Black your very existence can be reduced to a name on a banner at a protest march.

I had never heard, for instance–nor would I ever reasonably have had a reason to–the name George Floyd before his murder. Now his name has gone global. It’s on banners and walls as graffiti, as an anthem unto itself. He was, for three weeks at least, the poster face of the movement. Until the Atlanta killing. I still don’t know anything about him apart from the calloused manner in which he was carelessly slain. Killed while the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck might coolly have been whistling or reading a book.

Left to its own devices, I’m fairly certain the movement would champion other individuals. I’m thinking Dr. Martin Luther King or Jesse Jackson. Or someone who could claim involvement with the Civil Rights Movement. Maybe someone, I don’t know–alive. But BLM is never afforded the breathing room. And, yes, I used those words pointedly.

This drumbeat of brutality properly, justifiably, encapsulates BLM rage.

Still, it’s right to attempt to remember as many of the victims–their names–as we possibly can.

Instead, because it’s an ongoing outrage, we’ve witnessed a procession. Because there have been so many I can only recall a few. The name of one victim is, however briefly, elevated to the forefront before, as we’ve been conditioned to expect, the next victim is murdered.

But I doubt any of them ever wanted to be a cause du jour. That’s what they’ll remain until we heal. And when we do eventually heal, we’ll need to erect a memorial containing all of their names going so far back in time as we can. It would make an excellent trade for all the inexcusably still existing Confederate nonsense.

Yes, Black lives matter. And it is just this casual, almost democratic–you don’t have to be anything other than Black to qualify–killing of regular citizens that underscores this.



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