imagesLast week I was in Saint Louis, MO checking on a home I own. A day ago I was in New York visiting a client. Throughout each visit, I was peppered with “Black Lives Matter” and “I’m Michael Brown.”

Black Lives Matter started as a conversation on Facebook between two black women in two different cities – Oakland and Los Angeles. One friend wrote adding a hash tag to the three words that became a modern day slogan. And thus, “Black Lives Matter” was born.

After having a “Black Lives Matter” sign stuck in my face while stopped at an intersection near a store in Clayton, Missouri and watching New York protesters, I gave serious thought to the following statement.

Black lives son’t matter.

Before smoking steam, allow me to opine.

Having been a Saint Louis, Missouri resident and still owning a home, I bring forth the following observations.

  • When the Ferguson-Florissant school graduation rate is only 69.8%, we effectively say, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • The Normandy school district, the district where Michael Brown graduated days before his death, is the lowest-rated school district in the state. The district’s rating declined 40 percent in a single year while under control of the Republican-led state board of education. The Republicans in effect said, “Michael Brown’s life didn’t matter.
  • 93 percent of black homicide victims from are killed by black offenders. It’s true most murders, black or white, are intraracial. But the black-offending rate (34.4 per 100,000) was nearly eight times higher than white-offending rate (4.5 per 100,000). In summary, killing one another is saying “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • When legislatures claim poor people are lazy freeloaders misusing taxpayer money on frivolities, rather than the necessities for which the funds are intended, legislatures effectively say, “Lives of The Poor Don’t Matter.
  • When Congressmen like Peter King (R-NY) say, “If he had not had asthma, and a heart condition, and was so obese, he would not have died from this,” King is saying Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • When Senators like Rand Paul say, “Obviously, the individual circumstances are important, but I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive,” Rand’s saying “Black Lives Don’t Matter.”
  • When the actual number of new Ferguson, Missouri voting registrants from Aug. 9 to Oct. 6 totaled 128, Ferguson residents effectively said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • In the recent midterm election, only 42 percent of registered Ferguson voters cast ballots. This participation was actually 10 percent lower than the 2010 midterm. Ferguson, you’ve clearly stated, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • Normandy, Missouri’s percent of single-parent households is over 60%. Saint Louis nears 58%. Residents fathering children are saying “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head consoled Brown’s mother. An enraged Head screamed “burn this motherfucker down” and “burn this bitch down,” he effectively said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • When Louis Head screamed, “burn this bitch down,” enraging the crowd to confront the police and place themselves in harm’s way, Louis in effect said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • Head is an ex-convict whose rap sheet includes several felony narcotics convictions. He plead guilty in 1997 to a marijuana distribution charge and was placed in a shock incarceration program and five years  probation. After violating probation, Head’s release was revoked and he was remanded to state prison. In mid-2003, Head was charged with narcotics trafficking, a felony count to which he later pleaded guilty. The St. Louis native was sentenced to seven years in prison. He was released in June 2008 after serving about five years in custody. When Head distributed and sold drugs to the community in which he lived, his actions say, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • When Ferguson, Missouri protesters looted and burned businesses to the ground, they effectively said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • A self-described “urban militia” group offered cash bounty for the location of Ferguson, Missouri, Officer Darren Wilson. The “protesters” calling itself RbG Black Rebels announced a $5,000 bounty on Darren Wilson, with $1,000 bounty for any family member.  They effectively said “Black Lives Don’t Matter.
  • Five Saint Louis Rams players, Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Tavon Austin came out for the Rams’ game against the Oakland Raiders with their hands up as a statement of support for Ferguson. When those same players strap a Stanley hammer to their helmet to show support for the Bosnian immigrant hammered to death by a black 17-year-old, then I’ll believe them. But since no one’s protesting for the murdered Bosnian, it’s clear “Only Black Lives Matter, Bosnian Lives Don’t.”

Lastly, we have to give our police officers a break. Society straps a gun to their waste and tells them to save us from ourselves. These officers deal with our shit and we expect only perfection. Borrowing from Chapin, they see pimps and whores, rapes and more, punk gang wars, robberies and homicides. They walk the beat with the creeps of the street, it’s damn hard to hide. A police officer recently said,

“The first 5 years I felt good about who I was and what I was doing. That was until I realized I was a a social janitor. “Clean up in isle 9.” Someone vomited.”

I believe neither Brown nor Garner should be dead. However, we don’t have the audacity to claim impose our smug self-imposed judgement based upon prejudice. Justice for the few is not justice for all.

Every life has to matter. And believing Black Lives Matter requires participation. Society must participate in something beyond yelling, screaming and looting. It has to be meaningful and with love.

Anything less than full participation means “Black lives won’t matter.

And who’s responsible? You and I.