Who could have a problem with the Black Lives Matter movement? Does it seek to diminish the lives of others? Does it ask people to violently confront perceived injustices? Does it ask for any conclusion that is not based on the concepts of fairness and justice? The discussion of race in American political culture is extremely difficult. Often, groups who disagree with a movement suggest that “hate” or other nefarious motives must be involved. For generations, too many discussions about race have been based on perspectives and perceptions rather than examining the real experiences of people. The only problems that really get solved are the problems that we have the courage to analyze and deal with the realities of the of human behavior.
I am encouraged by the fact that young people are leading the movement. It is true that parents, family members, and others are taking an interest, but young people have been captivated and are starting a movement of their own. We can receive valuable information if we carefully to listen to their experiences and frustrations. Every generation has an opportunity to leave its mark. This generation has coalesced around the deaths of African Americans who were killed under suspicious circumstances. Unfortunately, several groups have chosen not to look at their legitimate concerns, but to question their motivations. Others have chosen to characterize them as thugs or malcontents. However, these characterizations are not new, Dr. King was called a communist and even our sitting president has been called a terrorist.
Black Lives Matter does not mean that other lives do not matter. However, given the context of the what has happened to African Americans historically, does it surprise you that many feel that the statement should be made? Few can make the argument that their community has suffered the same issues over significant periods of time. Slavery, three-fifths compromise, Jim Crow laws, redlining, etc. Dr. Claude Anderson documents laws, state by state, which were crafted to place African Americans in an economically and socially inferior position.
Does this mean that other lives do not matter? Certainly not. However, we must all act together to address legitimate issues. We must make the statement that our communities should build bridges with the officers who serve in our communities. Community policing principles are critical to building better relationships in ethnic communities. We must also reach across ethnic lines to build communities of interest. In many instances, young people of all ethnic communities are working together to proclaim that #Black Lives Matter. The real problem seems to be that many do not want to admit that Black lives have not always mattered to everyone. In my lifetime (the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther movement, and the Southern Strategy South), many black people, and progressive people were murdered without proper investigations and consequences. Many communities are working hard today to build relationships with police organizations that will overcome years of mistrust. We must all support legitimate efforts to achieve transparency in investigations. Our children expect us to live up to the words in our Constitution. If we do, all lives will matter and we will not have to question the motives of even our critics. –jeff travillion