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Black Heritage 2017: The Lives that Matter

BLM protest
What a lovely human being
"We need to start killing people," said a Black Lives Matter protester in Seattle in January, to cheers and applause. In a profanity laden rant, she went on to announce that it was time to dismantle capitalism, to demand white people "give your fucking money, your fucking house, your fucking property" to the "Black and Brown Community," and ended with a chilling promise that, as a preschool teacher, she was going to "radicalize" her young, impressionable students. Again, all this was met with cheers and applause.

I like to believe that one person is not representative of an entire group, that this preschool teacher does not speak for the entirety of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, this is hardly an isolated incident. The co-founder of the BLM movement in Toronto, Yusra Khogali, accused white people of being "sub-humxn" and "genetically deficient." Then there's DeRay Mckesson, noted BLM activist, who is known for sending out controversial tweets such as the now famous one in which he declares that the police in America are engaging in "ethnic cleansing." Of course, there's plenty of extreme, vile anti-white comments to be found on Twitter in BLM's name. One BLM supporter, as we all know by now, decided to shoot and kill five police officers in Dallas, and though nobody is to blame in such an instance except the shooter, it's kind of hard to ignore the rhetoric he was inspired by. In BLM protests around the country, there have been violent assaults, arrests, arson, and rioting.

In January at George Washington University, the DNC held a forum for candidates hoping to become the next chair of the committee. One of the candidates, Sandy Boynton Brown, declared that it was her job to "shut other white people down when they want to interrupt" a black person. She claims that Democrats need to "train" white people to be more sensitive and subservient to black interests. I'm sure she'd advise me to STFU right about now.

Dear White People
They're looking down
On the movie front, Netflix recently announced it would produce a series based on Dear White People, a popular independent film about black students in a predominantly white Ivy League school, and a bunch of people decided to cancel their Netflix subscriptions in protest. I won't even bother getting into the many things wrong with this, but sufficed to say, it's pretty clear evidence that the racial divide in this country is getting wider, not thinner.

It is 2017, and the two terms of the first black president are over. His administration, rather than overseeing a "post-racial America," saw the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of Donald Trump, a presidential candidate openly endorsed by white supremacists. We, as a society, are as racially charged and angry as we were in the 1960's, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. This is not a good thing, not by any stretch, because we are not healing. Indeed, things are spiralling out of control at a rapid rate.

Unfortunately, this is not really surprising. We are still teaching our children that skin color is more important than character. We are still dividing people, putting them in boxes, and declaring that one box has more advantage than another. We are still arguing that history itself needs to be segregated, so that white people get eleven months out of the year and black people get February (which happens to be the shortest month). We still look at the world through a lens of racial quotas, looking at groups and counting how many black people are represented. We still haven't learned anything.

Nelson Mandela
This guy knew what he was talking about
I know I sound like a broken record, and that's kind of the point, I guess. We've been trying to do things one way for several decades now, and it's clearly not working. We've been trying to teach our children that we should respect diversity and give lip service to equality, but in so doing, we can't help but point out the superficial differences that separate us. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Teach children that different groups are treated differently, and they'll grow up to treat different groups differently.

We can do better than this--we have to do better--and the best thing we can do is erase the boundaries. Stop treating skin color as a demographic. Let's all agree that it's no more important than hair color or right-handedness. Stop letting our children grow up believing that black skin is an automatic disadvantage or that white skin is an automatic advantage. Reality is much messier than that, and it's time our children embraced the reality instead of the convenient narrative that keeps us angry at each other. Of course there's racism in the world, and of course we need to be aware of it, but we cannot let it define us. We cannot become a racially divided nation just because there are racists amongst us. We do that, and we prove the racists right.

As I see it, there are no "black interests." There is no "black history." There is no "white privilege." We are all human beings, and the more we embrace our tribal instincts and draw arbitrary lines around ourselves, the further we'll be divided.

Black lives do not matter any more or less than any other lives, white, blue, green, yellow, or otherwise. "All lives matter" is not a racist battle cry; it's the truth. If believing it makes me a racist, so be it. I recognize the Black Lives Matter movement started with legitimate concerns about racism in America. I recognize that there are people who honestly believe they've been devalued by society because of the color of their skin, and I can't definitively prove them wrong. However, once you start to boo and hiss at people who want to argue that no life is less valuable than another, you reinforce the problem rather than help find the solution. You create an atmosphere where a woman can openly declare that it's time to start killing people and get applauded for it. Anger and violence aren't going to solve this thing. Only compassion and a respect for all lives can do that.


-e. magill 2/27/2017

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