rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

If 'all lives matter,' why do some lives clearly matter more than others?

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Image: Flickr/Can Pac Swire

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

All lives matter.

...a pity that some matter more than others. Which is why Black Lives Matter needs to remind us: Black bodies are alive too.

Needs to remind us. Good God. Really? Yes, really.

So Black Lives Matter, Toronto chapter, stopped a Pride parade for half an hour. The social media roof fell in. Even some people I respect called that protest within a protest (if Pride has even a vestige of protest left these days) "tone deaf," or uncalled-for, or thankless, or impolite. Those people (and I use the phrase advisedly) were disruptive. They were spitting on the rug of their hosts. They were getting in the way. They were buzzkill. They were harshing everybody's mellow.

They didn't know their place.

Some didn't merely knee-jerk. There's John Ibbitson, of all people. I don't like everything in his piece, but he thought about the meaning of the BLM_TO protest. He was conflicted about it. And, to his credit, he admitted it.

But pundits as a rule don't like to be of two minds. They prefer to speak ex cathedra. So the other whi' folks lined up. They opened their yaps and Mr. Charlie spoke. Who did those uppity protesters think they were? It was hot on that day, dammit. People were trying to celebrate. Never mind that the first Pride parade was a riot. Never mind that the first few parades after that were still risky for the folks that marched in them. Eventually Pride became respectable. Corporate floats and all. And police floats too.

I liked those floats when I first saw them in Ottawa. Local "morality squad" cops had been busting bathhouses. Found-ins were named in the newspapers. But things changed, if not overnight, in a very short time. Those floats were a vindication, almost an apology.

But that was then. As any smart-alec will tell you, Pride "evolved." It's safe enough now for the Prime Minister of Canada to join in.

Safe. Just like our streets for "non-white" LGBT folks? Well, no. Black and Asian queers and trans people suffer police harassment and brutality all the time, in Toronto as elsewhere. The more corporate floats, booths and kiosks there are at Pride, the less space for people, ordinary LGBT people, to occupy. Their voices of pain are drowned out. There's betrayal all around them, as the police (not LGBT police per se, but the police as an institution) join the parade. Like having management floats, as one activist said, on a Labour Day parade. Hell, bosses work too. Right?

Damn, I'm angry as I write this. BLMTO, standing up for marginalized people, being re-marginalized by a cyber-mob, including "progressives." Their demands all eminently reasonable: more space for them, please, in the annual Pride event. Recognition. Intersectionality, which appears to have too many syllables for some folks to grasp. If people of colour don't want police floats, I'd rather deepen solidarity with them than worry about a few hurt fee-fees in the cop shop. That's a strategic question. Do progressives want to march with a few cops on Pride day, or with people of colour every day, whose lives are marked by police victimization?

Why the hell should I even have to ask that question?

And then the news explodes: two more Black men murdered by cops in the U.S. in as many days. One cop caught on video executing his victim, Alton Sterling, at point-blank range. More shots are pumped into his unresisting body by the death squad in blue. The body cameras that cops are supposed to wear somehow "fell off." Philando Castile, in another city, is murdered by another cop who pulled him over for a broken tail-light (apparently a capital offence in the U.S. if you're Black), demanded he produce his ID and shot him as he tried to comply. This in front of Castile's partner and her four-year-old child.

Anyone with the wit to keep more than one thing in their heads at a time could put two and two together. Black people don't live the same lives that we white folks do. They may never live those lives in the comfort that we do. Many of them are angry about it, for some reason. Many of them think cops may be part of the problem. But the uncarded scratch their pallid brows and wonder what's gotten into those people. BLMTO made some people uncomfortable on Pride day, and they're getting the treatment, and none of the people administering the media lash are talking about racism. Hey, Pride isn't even about racism -- right?

Meanwhile Black bodies are bullied, tortured and killed, and not a word is spoken in their defence by the oh-so-superior white cognoscenti. Those journalists, their smug faces almost winking in complicity, the very ones who whined in their sundry media columns about a 30-minute interruption of a Pride march, fell utterly silent.

Odd, that. Don't all lives matter after all?

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Image: Flickr/Can Pac Swire

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.