You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
If I say, “Save the Whales,” it doesn’t mean I don’t care about how tunas are hunted. No one would retort, “All Ocean Life Matters.” Of course it’s about the ecosystem. However, the slogan “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) has proven to be a source of irritation for a lot of white and Black Americans.
In the minds of many, this defiant slogan is the ultimate example of playing the so-called “race card.” Ironically, these same detractors see the promotion of “white power” and waving paraphernalia celebrating a defeated Confederacy as being patriotic. By the way, I have not heard anyone accuse those advocating “white power” of playing the race card.
BLM has spawned a multiracial, multicultural and multigenerational populist movement. BLM seeks to be an antiracist movement that says, “Can you hear us now?” They realize that for America to live up to its aspirational vision of “Justice for All,” we must protect the most vulnerable in our society. What’s unique about the BLM movement is that it has deviated from this time-tested formula of finding a national spokesperson or leader. They are local, leaderless and pesky. However, local protests under the aegis of Black Lives Matter are subject to being infiltrated by apolitical hoodlums and political provocateurs. Additionally, the platform that the founders of the BLM movement have endorsed is controversial, even among Black Americans. Still, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.
The pervasive nature of systemic racism has resulted in whites being either conscious or unconscious perpetuators of an unfair and discriminatory way of life for Black Americans. Conscious racism is unabashed and virulent in its opposition to social justice for Blacks and other marginalized groups. No one in America can deny that Black lives are in jeopardy. Not only are rogue police to be feared, but also lack of medical care, substandard housing, and ghettos teeming with Black gangs operating as neighborhood terrorists all function to undermine Black lives.
Let’s get real. BLM applies not only to whites who murder Blacks, but also Blacks who murder each other. When the larger society does not value Black lives, the inner-city thugs think they have a “get out of jail free” card. We need to work together to stop these killings. Blacks must break the code of silence about Black on Black crime. White Americans must actively become antiracist.
As a white American, declaring oneself antiracist is more than a notion. Such a declaration is a radical and risky act. Whites taking an antiracist position will often alienate themselves from family, lose friends and incur the wrath of the conscious racists.
This historical moment is a roll call for those who really believe in America as the “home of the free and the land of the brave.” When future generations look back on these times, what side will you be on?