Why this 68-year-old, white male liberal came around on Black Lives Matter

Photo by Les Phillips

Recently, I was walking down an alley and saw this lonely glove lying on the pavement. Immediately I thought of the Black Lives Matter movement and took this photo. It was only later, while creating the above image, that a number of possible interpretations came to mind. I’ll let you find your own meaning.

I haven’t always been a supporter of Black Lives Matter.

I am a 68-year-old, white male and Bernie Sanders supporter. My conversion to Black Lives supporter started the day that Bernie’s speech was cut short by Black Lives activists.  At first I was I was pissed. I saw their action as an attack against Bernie and a slap in the face of all white civil rights supporters and activists. I felt that I had been criticized personally.

And besides, don’t All Lives Matter?  That is how I equivocated for a year. I had an excuse that allowed me to ignore the Black Lives people and their message.

In truth, Black Lives Matter was holding me to account for my inaction.

It took time to put away my anger and cool off enough to hear their message. In the following weeks as Black Lives spokespeople were interviewed on news programs and discussions occurred in the media, I came to see their point.

I had become numb to the constant assault against black people.

People don’t change their behavior when they are comfortable. They change when something distresses them.

We whites, including liberals, are too comfortable. We assume that because we supported civil rights and other social movements that somehow that was enough. I realized that there is an epidemic of questionable police violence and that much of it is directed at people of color, in particular black men, women, and children.

Black Lives Matter shook me and woke me up.

Everyone, not just liberals, needs to take time to consider where they stand on Black Lives Matter.  Yes, police aggression has been directed at all races but, black Americans suffer the brunt of the violence. With the exception of Native Americans, black Americans have suffered institutional violence the longest. We have allowed it to continue to long. It must stop.

Yes, All Lives Matter.

But it is Black Americans that represent the rest of us concerning police violence. In the Civil Rights struggle where black leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and activists like the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee demonstrated how to non-violently assert their rights. The social justice movements of the last 45 years owe a great debt to the Black Americans who stood up for their rights and in so doing, showed the rest of us how to stand up for ours.

Once again, Black Americans are taking on another social justice fight that affects us all. Its time to pay attention to their experiences and messages. They apply to all Americans.

That’s why I no longer equivocate: Black Lives Matter.

This post was written by Les Phillips and originally published on Every Picture Tells A Story.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Mac Riddel on 11/03/2015 - 11:45 am.

    Threats & criminal acts should not be rewarded

    How about when they threaten to interrupt the Twin Cities Marathon? Good thing they backed down at the last minute after Governor Dayton intervened. Or demonstrate at the State Fair over well, nothing? That they aren’t well represented as Fair vendors? They didn’t even approach the Fair prior to this and the process there was equal to all.

    All lives do matter. Maybe police do sometimes inadvertently target minorities on traffic stops. Well, there’s probably a reason for that as minorities commit a larger percentage of crimes in the inner cities due to the fact that the average minority there is less well off & less educated than others.

    Having a die-in on a freeway or a private mall may bring attention to a group, but it doesn’t make it right. If I got a bunch of like-minded people to do something like that we’d be arrested, instead, Black Lives Matters “protesters” usually get a peaceful police escort during every event. Where’s the equality here? Why is there such a blatant disregard for the laws w/o so much as a citation?

    I was the opposite of this author. At first, I sympathized with this group when they marched & protested within the laws. But after they shut down the Mall of America, they went down a criminal path and lost the respect of many people, including me.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/03/2015 - 06:00 pm.

    The “Black Lives Matter” Folk are Up Against

    the same thing those who accused their Catholic priests of sexual abuse were up against:

    a well-protected, insular, self-referential brotherhood of men,…

    who, all being “in the same boat,”…

    and serving rolls, and suffering from job stress,…

    that they believe others can’t understand,…

    are far too likely to look past the flaws of their fellows,…

    telling themselves that those flawed others are good people,…

    who only make occasional mistakes,…

    and that those who are calling them and their brotherhood into question are just “out to get them.”

    I fear that, in the end, ALL police officers are going to be painted as not worthy of trust and respect,…

    with exactly the same broad brush used to paint ALL members of the Catholic priesthood,…

    in far too many people’s minds.

    Those who really should NOT be police officers,…

    those few who are capable of erupting into violence and the use of deadly force for no good reason,…

    except their own psychological dysfunctions,…

    and who are, far too often, absolute (if unconscious) bigots,…

    are rapidly becoming the image of “police officer” for way too many folk.

    Of course our nation’s police and sheriff’s departments could take action to clean those types of officers out of their forces,…

    but I fear they’re going to spend far too long doing what the Catholic Church did,…

    circling up the wagons and rejecting any and all attempts to get them to institute serious hiring, training, and retention reform,…

    and, in doing so, leave the entire idea that police are working “to protect and serve,”…

    beaten unconscious and bleeding on the ground.

  3. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/04/2015 - 08:42 am.

    Are you listening?

    “It took time to put away my anger and cool off enough to hear Black Lives Matter’s message.”(L.P.)

    I have heard the BLM message and all forms of “hate speech” should be condemned.

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