Friday, September 4, 2015

The Truth of ‘Black Lives Matter’


The Republican Party and its acolytes in the news media are trying to demonize the protest movement that has sprung up in response to the all-too-common police killings of unarmed African-Americans across the country. The intent of the campaign — evident in comments by politicians like Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky — is to cast the phrase “Black Lives Matter” as an inflammatory or even hateful anti-white expression that has no legitimate place in a civil rights campaign.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas crystallized this view when he said the other week that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., were he alive today, would be “appalled” by the movement’s focus on the skin color of the unarmed people who are disproportionately killed in encounters with the police. This argument betrays a disturbing indifference to or at best a profound ignorance of history in general and of the civil rights movement in particular. From the very beginning, the movement focused unapologetically on bringing an end to state-sanctioned violence against African-Americans and to acts of racial terror very much like the one that took nine lives at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in June. 

The civil rights movement was intended to make Congress and Americans confront the fact that African-Americans were being killed with impunity for offenses like trying to vote, and had the right to life and to equal protection under the law. The movement sought a cross-racial appeal, but at every step of the way used expressly racial terms to describe the death and destruction that was visited upon black people because they were black.

Even in the early 20th century, civil rights groups documented cases in which African-Americans died horrible deaths after being turned away from hospitals reserved for whites, or were lynched — which meant being hanged, burned or dismembered — in front of enormous crowds that had gathered to enjoy the sight.

The Charleston church massacre has eerie parallels to the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. — the most heinous act of that period — which occurred at the height of the early civil rights movement. Four black girls were murdered that Sunday. When Dr. King eulogized them, he did not shy away from the fact that the dead had been killed because they were black, by monstrous men whose leaders fed them “the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism.” He said that the dead “have something to say” to a complacent federal government that cut back-room deals with Southern Dixiecrats, as well as to “every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice.” Shock over the bombing pushed Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act the following year.

During this same period, freedom riders and voting rights activists led by the young John Lewis offered themselves up to be beaten nearly to death, week after week, day after day, in the South so that the country would witness Jim Crow brutality and meaningfully respond to it. This grisly method succeeded in Selma, Ala., in 1965 when scenes of troopers bludgeoning voting rights demonstrators compelled a previously hesitant Congress to acknowledge that black people deserved full citizenship, too, and to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Along the way, there was never a doubt as to what the struggle was about: securing citizenship rights for black people who had long been denied them.


The “Black Lives Matter” movement focuses on the fact that black citizens have long been far more likely than whites to die at the hands of the police, and is of a piece with this history. Demonstrators who chant the phrase are making the same declaration that voting rights and civil rights activists made a half-century ago. They are not asserting that black lives are more precious than white lives. They are underlining an indisputable fact — that the lives of black citizens in this country historically have not mattered, and have been discounted and devalued. People who are unacquainted with this history are understandably uncomfortable with the language of the movement. But politicians who know better and seek to strip this issue of its racial content and context are acting in bad faith. They are trying to cover up an unpleasant truth and asking the country to collude with them.

9 comments:

  1. Shouting Pigs in a Blanket fry'em like bacon discounts and devalues any message they may or may not of had.
    Booing democrat candidate Martin O' Malley when he said all lives matter, black lives matter, white lives matter, cop lives matter , all lives matter is further evidence that this is strictly a hate group and something Dr King would be upset about.

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    1. Can any of you Ozone experts of "things Southbridge" explain how it is a town that has more crack and heroin dealers than it has black men that 01550 hasamatazz so many psychic experts that know what the Reverend Martin Luther King would do in 2002?

      Since the day that Abraham strolled down from Mount Sinai we have known that All Lives Matter, and the numbers verify that black jurors are as likely or more likely to put a black man away for murder than a white man. That is not an issue.

      In the 1960's, if you wanted to get a way with taking black lives, if you joined the local Klan you had a very reasonable opportunity to hang a man of color, without fear of prosecution. Now you join the local PD.

      When a black man kills a white man, he gets prosecuted, and often he spends his life in prison, or his life is taken by the state.

      If a white ( or black)man kills a black man, often all he gets is a suspension with pay.Over the last 13 or so years(2002) , Police have shot and killed on average over five black men a week. Very sadly, in the last 13 days, Police officers have been getting killed almost as often. BOTH needs to stop.We all be dieing enough from pollution and cigarettes without killing each other.

      If the use of deadly force by a Police Officer assured that their gun be taken away for good, fewer Police would shoot to kill. Why not salt or plastic bullets?

      As for Martin Luther King, how do we know for certain that the wisdom of Malcom X would not have had an influence upon him in time?

      Another local MLK expert claimed on FB that Reverend King would be supportive of marriage between men. Hmm. Well, I will offer this thought. Just as it is true that Martin K may have been influenced by Malcom X, it is true that the Reverend King would have changed his beliefs related to his sermon against sodomy, but we will never know for certain.

      Let's all state that "all lives matter", but let's nit rush into that until after white and black Police stop killing more black men in America than the terrorist kill black men that are in the Army?

      Amen.

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    2. Either all lives matter or they don't.

      you post says you believe they don't

      "Let's all state that "all lives matter", but let's nit rush into that until after white and black Police stop killing more black men in America than the terrorist kill black men that are in the Army? "

      "Over the last 13 or so years(2002) , Police have shot and killed on average over five black men a week."
      Compared to how many White people doing the very same thing that drew the polices attention to them in the first place?

      Segregation of sympathy doesn't work or go over well just as segregation itself doesn't work or go over well.

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    3. All lives DO matter, but compare the shooting of a northern Illinois police officer this week to the shooting of a black teenager by a Policeman for pulling a candy bar out of his pocket.

      In Illinois, there was total coverage- some people called Police thinking the Chinese and Russians invaded via Canada because of all the unmarked Helicopters.

      When a nervous cop kills a kid by accident, the only coverage is the cover up.

      So in terms of where my sympathies lie, I feel equal sympathy for the candy bar yielding child and the veteran Police officer, no segregation there.

      The issue is the segregation of Justice, not segregationof sympathy. Get it?. Even the murderer of twenty plus black children in the Atlanta area years ago did not get the enfircement attention of the dead policeman in Illinois. Get it yet??

      There probably is a hungry child in Greenwich CT tonight, probably bc big sister is smoking a joint with her boyfdiend instead of cooking dinner. I am more sympathetic over a hungry kid on Worcester Street bc we have more crack and heroin dealers than restaurants and grocery stores then I am over little Peabody waiting for sue to order take out.

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    4. But...... NOTHING!
      Segregation of sympathy doesn't work or go over well just as segregation itself doesn't work or go over well.

      This is why the black lives matter message won't matter to most anyone but blacks because their singular message discounts and devalues everyone else over and above themselves. It is a failed formula.

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    5. It’s blacks who are shot while unarmed – not whites.
      It’s blacks who are stopped frequently while driving for no reason other than their skin color – not whites.
      It’s blacks who are sentenced to prison for offenses where whites walk or get community service.
      White lives have always mattered more than black lives. If you want to protest “Black lives matter” with your disingenuous slogan “All live matter”, don’t forget the tagline “It’s just that black lives matter less!”

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    6. Well put Slogan!

      "All Lives Matter", segregation has its place, and the same people that are puking out the " all lives" message are the first to embrace economic segregation.

      Consider one of the applicants for the School Committee that keeps his children in private schools to isolate them from the poor kids, yet he feels as though he is entitled to oversee a system that is not good enough for his own children! Ha, all children matter, but your kids are not going to be hanging around my kids, because my kids matter more. It is because economic segregation is an actual product that segregation works for the wealthy, but due to that separation, the quest for equality fails flat out.

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    7. I agreed that economics separates the wheat from the shaft but everyone has equal opportunity to grow and prosper. People of all types make it, and also fail ,as well as everyone in between the two groups based on effort applied.
      Where I disagree is in how that translates toward a singular group saying they matter more and above all else. You know hey look at me,pay attention to me, because I matter more! Its a turn off that devalues the intention of the message.
      Regarding the applicant for School Committee it is a little hypocritical to send your kids to private school while overseeing a system deemed not good enough for his kids. The larger picture though is cronyism and who else on the school committee asked him to run. .

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