Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


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

It took time to put away my anger and cool off enough to hear Black Lives Matter’s message.

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.

Article continues after advertisement

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.

Article continues after advertisement

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.

If you blog and would like your work considered for Minnesota Blog Cabin, please submit our registration form.