This post is, of course, sparked by Facebook rants. Last year, my New Year’s* resolution was to no longer stand idle when I came across hate on Facebook. In the end, all that served to do was make me yell at walls. (Pun intended.) This year, I am only engaging when I feel my perspective would be productive to the conversation.
I’ve found that many times, this means backing up the younger generation. My cousin once removed is a budding SJW, but she is only 18 and hasn’t been taught the counters to the common tropes from bigots (many of them her peers who haven’t thought through how they may have been raised). I can accomplish more for conversation by speaking with her, than railing against my bigoted uncle.
Today I saw an acquaintance (white, young) post a Black Lives Matter meme. She was countered by the typical All Lives Matter trope, and of course, the argument devolved. What stuck with me was the fact that the poster that countered with All Lives Matter wasn’t white; he was by his own definition, brown. I had not considered that the Black Lives Matter movement could alienate other minorities with its message. Up until now, I had viewed All Lives Matter as a way to dodge and diminish the reality of the problem we have with institutional racism by the privileged. Does calling out Black lives above Latino or Muslim lives hurt the overall impact of the movement? When an ally champions Black lives, does this hurt their Brown allies?
Last week, I read an interview with Dan Savage, infamous internet sex columnist and podcaster, about how the Gay Rights movement** realized benefits for many others outside just the gay community.
“Gay people coming out, in the face of judgment and shame, about their sexual expressions encouraged a lot of straight people to express their sexual identities beyond just ‘I want to meet someone, get married, and have some babies.’”
This is true of the Black Lives Matter movement as well. I believe the Black Lives Movement will realize benefits for others marginalized by institutional racism. This movement shines a light on the inequality in the justice system as it stands today. Any and all light on the broken justice system is better than allowing it to be swept back under the rug the way that All Lives Matter does. Darker Than Khaki Lives Matter just doesn’t have the same ring to it though.
Black Lives Matter has become that rally cry that can shine a light on all inequality – black, brown, yellow, red – if we can just stop bickering and giving those in privileged more cause to turn that light away. In fact, the recent FBI findings on Hillary Clinton shine a light on the different rules for those with privileged vs those without it. Many of my Conservative friends are pointing at a system officials being “paid off” and point out that top officials died before important testimonies. This injustice isn’t a one way street, and both issues are symptoms of the SAME broken system – that system favors those with power and privilege over others. Sometimes the others are more privileged than you or I (John Ashe), and sometimes they aren’t (Alton Sterling).
*I don’t actually do resolutions on New Year’s, as anything picked arbitrarily has a low success rate. I tend to make resolutions when the need for the change is high. This normally occurs right before my birthday, which makes complete sense when you think about it.
**We know that the Gay Rights movement still has a very long road ahead of them, and in many ways it will be similar to the Civil Rights movement. Orlando foreshadows many scary parallels, and I fear for my friends and my country.