White Noise: Thoughts on Selective Silence, Privilege & #BlueLivesMatter

By: Terrence A. Merkerson

***This not an indictment against police officers individually. This is an indictment against the systemic, oppressive behavior exhibited in the form of violence and brutality by officers of the law. 

In the immediate wake of brutal murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Black folks all across the country were enraged, frustrated, saddened but not at all surprised to hear that police officers have AGAIN unlawfully taken the lives of two Black men. In offices, workplaces, social media timelines and campuses all around the nation, the only topic of discussion that Black folk were interested in was this attack on our people. As we saw many of our friends, coworkers, classmates of other races (and even some of our own) go about their day as if nothing had happened… an abundance of side-eyes were issued.

Upon bringing this to the attention of some of my friends and colleagues, they told that me they either did not know enough to really discuss it or that they were uncomfortable speaking about it. They were completely unaware of how problematic taking those positions were. We don’t need “all the facts” to have a dialogue about the ongoing trend of police violence against black bodies. There is video. Talk about what your eyes see. If you have an opinion and/or investment in our culture, our music, our slang, and our fashion you should also have an opinion and investment in our rights, freedoms and livelihoods… but today you have nothing… oh ok.

It does not matter if the subject was uncomfortable… being Black in America is uncomfortable. There will no refuge in your silence and there will be no comfort in your excuses. Comfort and silence under these conditions is irresponsible. It is a blatant dereliction of duty as a human being. Being able to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable is a systematic privilege. That is a privilege that Black folks and other minorities are sparsely afforded.

Next day.

The attack on Dallas Police happens… now everybody is pissed off and wants to talk. (*Anger and frustration reaches maximum capacity.) What has re-manifested from the bowels of White fear, outrage, and support of law enforcement is the heralded #AllLivesMatter slogan, this time accompanied by #BlueLivesMatter. (The hashtag themselves being yet another example of the appropriation of Black culture.) We have over-addressed the delinquency of the #AllLivesMatter slogan, so I will offer that  no further attention. This #BlueLivesMatters one, tho… y’all reaching right here.

#BlueLivesMatters is not a real thing. Blue Lives do not actually exist. Blue Life is a choice. It is an occupation. The “Blue” can be taken off. Do you see the difference? All of the beautiful shades of melanin that Black folks have so brazenly donned is not and never has been a choice. It cannot be taken off. It isn’t a spray tan. Black skin and Black life are perennially affixed.

Ain’t no clock-out with this shit. Ain’t no off-duty, bih.

To see the groundswell of support for police officers in response to our protest and resistance against police brutality is essentially spitting in the face of Black Americans. Do we support the police? We pay taxes. Are we anti-police? Can’t see anywhere that has been said. But do we trust the police? HELL NO. The lives of all people matter, including the lives of the five officers in killed in Dallas, but all people, all ACTUAL people’s lives are not being violently and brutally extinguished by those who have “earned” the authority to protect and preserve the lives of the very same people that they are willfully killing, it is primarily just ours.

To see police officers and their supporters respond in the ways that they have is narrow-minded, insensitive and inflammatory. Where is the accountability? Where is the acknowledgement?  Why is it that any criticism of law enforcement is responded to with dismissal, abandonment and bitterness? It is because these critiques stand as an obstruction to power. That power rests in somewhere within the ambiguity and subjectivity of the words “protect and serve.” Who are you protecting? Who’s interest is it that you are serving? I once read that this kind of power can make a lie come true and this is exactly what we have seen in the beatings and murders of countless victims of police brutality. #BlueLivesMatter is just the manifestation of another lie. Those that blindly subscribe or are willfully silent are equally accountable for that lie. We see you. We will remember you.




Terrence A. Merkerson is the Founder & Creator of Avenue Fifteen. Terrence earned Bachelor’s Degrees in both Political Science and Gender/Race Studies from the University of Alabama. Terrence also completed Graduate School at the University of Alabama earning a Master’s Degree in Communication.

He currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA.


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