When you think of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe it’s the town of Ferguson, Missouri where much of the outrage of black America was first seen nationally, maybe it’s Deray Mckesson, the 29-year-old activist who has been on the front lines across the nation tackling racism and police injustice wherever it may occur.
A year after Ferguson and the death of Mike Brown gave a modern face to police brutality and what life for many black faces in the United States looked like. The movement is still alive, even thriving depending on who you’re asking.
Yet, there seems to be a contingent of people who aren’t as thrilled with the progress of the movement, or at least, the face of it, Deray.
In just a year, Deray has gone from a Twitter activist and organizer to one of the most important faces and voices on the issue of Black Lives Matter. Whether that means sparring with Wolf Blitzer on National T.V., being arrested numerous times, or being an open target for those who oppose his stance.
With all the good and progress Deray is making, what could be the issue that not just other activist but black activist at that are having Deray?
Well, from what I can surmise, it’s a lot of jealousy.
Deray has become the face of movement that could drastically change the way black life in the United States is viewed and lived, and while he may not have been the founder of Black Lives Matter, he’s played just as important as a role as those leaders in fighting for the better treatment of black lives, isn’t that the purpose?
When the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter became more than a trending topic on social media last fall, the women behind it, Alicia Garza Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi made it clear that erasure was something they wouldn’t accept, and why should they? These women had gone above and beyond what many of us could imagine. They had put a face to the issue. truly began a movement that would last more than just a moment. The organization was there’s solely, but not the struggle.
The struggle belongs to the 40 million black Americans who must live with the burden that it means to be black in the United States.
Some of the criticism levied on Deray is reasonable. Deray has acted alone and been more of an independent contractor than part of a collective movement, and that’s ok. Deray has never once said that he was the movement or wanted to be hailed as a leader of it. I actually think this has hurt Deray. Whether the Black Lives Matter founders like it or not, people both with them and against them see Deray as a leader. His presence, as long as he’s using it for good, has many advantages.
The man is intelligent, a great speaker and a charismatic leader. He’s given up his personal life, privacy and at times his safety in hopes of helping all black people. So why, would you have a problem with that?
The criticism of Deray or any activist is warranted, to think that those who fight for the rights of others are immune from such criticism is a dangerous idea. However, there doesn’t seem to be any criticism being levied, but people upset their names aren’t appearing next to his on banners or their faces on cable news televisions.
The erasure of the women who founded Black Lives Matter was a legitimate concern, but that concern doesn’t allow for an open season on the man who as far as I’m concerned has been the public whipping boy for a movement.
So I thank Deray, because he continues to fight the good fight, one that many of us wouldn’t dare try to fight, not just against the larger corruption of the system, but at times, his own allies and peers.