Thursday, August 20, 2015

I Don't Understand the End Game for #BlackLivesMatter

Okay, I am an ally of what I assumed the #BlackLivesMatter movement was.  That is, I agree that there is a systematic and inherent racial bias in our justice system from routine enforcement to jury selection to pre-trail processing to sentencing that must change.
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#BlackLivesMatter explained in a sign
I can argue and site statistics that blacks (actually all people of color, but I am relating to the hashtag here) are harassed and stopped much more than whites.   Through the country and to an even more massive extent in the South, blacks are removed from Jury pools more than Whites.  Blacks are more likely to have bail set than whites and when that bail is set - all other things being equal - bails are much much higher than whites for a similar crime.  And when convictions happen, the rate of jailing for blacks and the sentencing times are off the charts stacked against blacks.
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This is what I thought #BlackLivesMatter was about.  Making the country safe and equal for the people of color who are now treated unfairly - even killed - and no one seems to care.
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But that isn't it.  Like the "Occupy Wall Street" movement before it, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is much more amorphous and leaderless.  The demands, particular on allies, seems incoherent.  There is honest anger, hell - justifiable rage, on the side of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and I get that.  How can I help?  Any and all responses seems to be meet with dismissal of allies as insincere.
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From my experience (which I KNOW is not the same as the experiences of #BlackLivesMatter) let me make an imperfect analogy.  I was at the age of anger and hope (mid-20s) when AIDS started killing thousands and thousands of people - hundreds of them friends and acquaintances.  And we gay men were furious at a system that legally and morally cast us out and treated us differently.  A political system that legally ostracized us and political leaders and religious leaders that called for us to be put away in camps.
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Out of that hypocrisy, movements were grown.  Some were support systems within major cities.  Allies were found with lesbians (and in the old days before LBGTBQ getting lesbians and gay men together was thought almost impossible), within the medical community, and with some politicians.  Act Up, Code Pink and groups like them were, like some #BlackLivesMatter activists, focused on disruption and visibility.
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But we did have an end-game.  We wanted money for research, legal protection as human beings and to lessen hatred against gays.  And we worked towards that.
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I would love to work towards the results #BlackLivesMatter want, but in many many cases their anger is articulated, but not their desired results.  And, as they lash out against allies and potential allies, horrible things still happen in the country.
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I watched Larry Wilmore having a discussion with two of the protesters who spoke with Hillary Clinton.  I watched to try to understand what I could do to help.  I watched it twice.  But there was no call to action or solution.  Only anger and dissatisfaction that allies aren't doing enough now.
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