What is it that defines what a Right is? What are the factors that constitute a Right? A Right is usually thought of something that is inalienable, which means it is something that a human being cannot be parted. If a Right is something that a human being cannot be parted with, then that also means it is something that they are guaranteed merely by the fact that they are born; that is, they inherently possess this Right for the sake of being a human being. That is what is generally thought to constitute a Right namely, that we are guaranteed it by birth, that we cannot be parted with it, and possess it inherently as a human being. This is so, regardless of whether it is a Human Right, a Civil Right, or a Property Right.
However, as history and experience will abundantly confirm the only thing that is guaranteed to any human being merely by the fact that they have been born is that at some point they will die; i.e., they will cease to live. It cannot be said that a person has a Right to live, if by Right, what is meant is that they cannot be parted from living, and yet we see clearly that our people are deprived of life all the time. Not that they are to be forgotten or are not worth mentioning, but rather, to be practical because the list of those who have had their lives stolen is far too long, I will name a few to focus attention on a much broader and problematic pattern of disregard for life.
Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Rekia Boyd. Eric Garner. Sarah Lee Circle Bear. Michael Brown. Hamza Warsame. Reverend Clementa Pinkney. Cynthia Hurd. Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Tywanza Sanders. Ethel Lance. Susie Jackson. Depayne Middleton Doctor. Reverend Daniel Simmons. Myra Thompson. John T. Williams.
State sanctioned and vigilante violence claims the lives of far too many people each year in the United States for Life to actually constitute a Right; that is, something which a human being cannot be alienated. Liberty, or the freedom to choose and to act as one chooses is likewise also not something which a human being cannot be alienated. Any jail or prison will set that notion straight in a hot second. Most people do not know that jurisprudence grants Rights such as the right to privacy, which includes the entitlement to own your own body (owned body), on the basis of our bodies being equated to property. So then Property Rights are out, too.
As you read this I am sure that many of you are thinking I have lost my mind and even perhaps that I should be silenced because I have given voice to one of the most horrendous contradictions of our society, and one that questions much of what most of us believe to be true; that there are factors of our existences which should be protected and sanctified. And in that I agree with you. There are factors in our lives which must and shall be protected.
Most of the things that are labeled Rights are in fact, factors that are encountered in enough people’s lives and that are so necessary and vital to achieving and maintaining a particular quality of life that people have joined together and decided to protect those factors. These protections will be different in different places and among different people because the needs and the particular quality of life that any specific group wishes to achieve and sustain, and the complications of achieving such will ultimately be different. That is not to suggest that we as a civilization of many cultures, religions, and groups do not agree on specific factors that should be protected, that are universal among all human beings. For example, it is agreed that regardless of whatever a person’s religion is that they cannot practice their religion if they are not alive to practice it. The same holds for conducting business (trade among people) or marrying (forming a union with) the person (or people) you love. Thus, it is agreed universally—and by universally I do not mean by every individual, but rather for every human being on the planet—that life is a factor which must be protected in order to achieve a particular quality of life that is valued in most cultures. This is what is thought to be a Human Right, but in reality, they are factors of being human that are supposed to be protected by our collective efforts to achieve a particular quality of life.
These protections are not granted to us merely by our being born and that makes them not Rights, but rather protections that we have to fight to secure and maintain for our people. We claim protections through demands. It is agreed that protections are instituted by collective agreements among the people. That is the essence of democracy, the cornerstone of the U.S. Congress, and the basis of the United Nations. However, they have become tainted, diluted, and polluted with corruption and malice as the agents and officers charged with guarding those protections and the process of establishing them, have supplanted the objectives for personal gain. The supposed guardians of our agreed upon protections have become the very thing we need protection from. Yet, although the institutions (human creations) have been corrupted that has not changed the fact that people are coming together to determine which factors of our lives must and shall be protected. And when the people are not permitted or heard in those corrupt institutions that is when protests, rebellions, and revolutions erupt.
People across the United States have been protesting and rebelling against the state sanctioned and vigilante violence declaring that our lives should be protected under the banner of “BlackLivesMatter.” The opposition to Black Lives Matter, usually under the banner of “All Lives Matter,” resolves into a denial that the lives of people of color should be protected from the arbitrary abuses of law enforcement and the impunity they are granted by the law to execute people of color. By stating “All Lives Matter,” what is being asserted is that the protections “Black Lives Matter” is seeking to achieve are already guaranteed to all people equally, but the facts reveal that assertion to be false.
The second problem is that many people in the United States may actually agree with the messages and the objectives of the movement, but disagree with the methods of the people seeking protections from harm. For example, a method that many opponents disagree with is when activists interrupt the status quo of business operations within a capitalist economic system dependent upon the exploitation of vulnerable human beings. And the Christmas shopping season in the United States is the quintessential epitome of capitalist over-consumption. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dealt with this phenomenon from white clergy members during Project Confrontation in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 and Black Lives Matter activists are dealing with this right now in Bloomington, Minnesota at the Mall of America while protesting the execution of Jamar Clark. The people in America tend to value participation in the decision making process, which is the essence of democracy, and also tend to believe that what the United States practices is democracy. However, that cannot be the case when there are over twelve million people who are disenfranchised, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been diminished in twenty-two states, and when people attempt to exercise their First Amendment ‘Rights’ we are being beaten, arrested, shot, and murdered. Nothing more exemplifies the corruption of the supposed ‘guardians’ of our protections than how Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter activist have been treated.
The executions of people of color by police officers are directly linked to capitalism via the Prison Industrial Complex and the Military Industrial Complex, which have all been written about extensively. All three of these systems ubiquitously deny and revoke the protections that people worldwide have fought for and believe should still be in effect. However, because they are not Rights, guaranteed to use merely by the fact that we were born and that they are in fact protections that we must continue to fight for is what we are doing, and that which we are all responsible for doing as members of our global community.