All around the country, voices are being raised that have been silent too long.
Silenced, cut down, ridiculed, denied, and accused of treason.
George Floyd was only one of many African American men who were brutalized and murdered by police forces. His death was not the one that triggered the movement ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This happened much earlier.
The movement, which began after the murder of young teen Trayvon Martin, has been in and out of the media over the past few years, but gained strength after the death of George Floyd. It is fueled by outrage over consistent injustice, violence, and racial discrimination by individuals, officials and police forces toward the African American community. While many have taken to the streets with signs and chants to call attention to the injustice and voice their anger, there have also been incidences of property destruction, looting, and violence against police officers.
As I read posts and comments from people on facebook in various groups and on their personal walls, I am struck by the divide in reactions to the death of Mr. Floyd and the following demonstrations. Some of these reactions are sadly predictable, as people fear the loss of white privilege.
I don’t watch much TV, but I read, and the responses of some of the white folks, including celebrities, are hostile, condescending, and thoughtless. Even people who would never consider themselves to be racists are now Backing the Blue and saying ‘ALL Lives Matter.’ Other minorities have stated that they, too, feel unseen, unheard, that BLM is taking the focus off other injustice. And for white conservatives, BLM appears to be a trigger and has them up in arms. Literally.
As Democrats, we must speak with one voice. As white Democrats, we need to understand that it is not our time to make demands. We did not create this powerful movement that has corporations reversing policy, cities agreeing to remove monuments, and armed forces and sports teams banning rebel flags. We can only stand in awe of those who lead these protests. And we can follow and support, adding our voices to their cause.
“But what about the violence?” many say. Yes, the violence is regrettable. But it is understandable that, after centuries of unacknowledged oppression, it is going to erupt. You don’t have to approve of it to understand it. When Colin Kaepernick knelt peacefully during the national anthem, the President of the United States called him an s.o.b.
‘Black Lives Matter’ addresses two separate issues: Police brutality in general and the continued discrimination against African Americans. ‘Black Lives Matter’ does not mean that other minorities are forgotten. It does not mean that it’s OK for cops to beat up white folk. It just means that right now, right here, we must give our all to this cause. We will all benefit in the long run, because if black lives don’t matter, ‘All Lives Matter’ is just empty talk.