The shorthand hashtag of a movement has caught a lot of attention recently. And perhaps to its credit, it has caused me to think a little more about what the message is trying to convey.  What follows is one persons opinion.

#BlackLivesMatter – I’ve begun to realize that many, especially those of us who are white and well enough off socio-economically, see this as a simple statement that bemoans the death of another black male. However, we seem to focus on the color…which is why (myself included) we wonder why black lives gunned down by other black lives don’t seem to matter to the protesters. It’s a fair question, about why there aren’t protests in Washington and Baltimore about the number of blacks murdered so far this year. I’ve begun to realize that what the campaign really wants to focus on (in its deeper thoughts) is not necessarily the deaths, but an overarching lack of awareness, and action, regarding the value and future of black lives. It is concern about political power and institutional power that drives the movement, the fact that the power structure of society, the courts, police and economic engines are driven by people of non-color. This is why the black on black shootings aren’t the issue, and why a black mayor can be heckled in her efforts to stop crime.  The issue isn’t the crime, isn’t the individual death, but rather the broader issue of the critical state of the society and the imbalances that are visible to those outside of the power structure.

They have a point, about the non-colored nature of the institutions.  Regardless of what part of the country you’re in, there are inherent biases in responses to opportunity, language, styles, even names. That these sometimes subtle biases need to be discussed and addressed in a rational manner.  No, not in terms of quotas but in terms of figuring out how to restructure the disparity that originated even before the great migration of the 20’s and continues today.   Both sides need to engage and start to see the other side, and to realize that we’ve come far since Brown but that there is still a long distance to go.  Of course, it’d be really helpful if the protests didn’t destroy the rare community resources that exist, because building from within and upon something existing is always easier than starting from a blank slate, or worse yet a burned out one. It’d be helpful, too, to not dilute the efforts by focusing on all the individual lives and skip the discussion about society. Yes, all lives matter, but the issue isn’t the lives, it’s the structure that appears to not get that point.

#PoliceLivesMatter – This one, too, gets caught up in the polemics of the times. While it is heard by the minority communities as a whine about a limited number of lives lost and as a dismissal of the power structure issue, they miss the real message here, the broader plea.  That message is a cry by the police and by the larger community for there to be respect, that there is an established authority, and that for the vast majority of the whole that authority is trying, at peril to their lives in the case of police,  to at least protect the life of the entire society so that it can move forward. It doesn’t help the needed dialogue when one side’s music or culture demonizes not just the authority but the persons who represent it. Nor does it help when the other side doesn’t realize that the structure has its flaws and bad actors that need to be addressed and changed.

#BreakingNews – And here is where a lot of the problem and challenge has been badly morphed in the past two decades.  Now there is 24-7 coverage of each event, assigning it a visibility and notoriety it wouldn’t have had in the days when news came on only once a day.  So now we see each event, hash it over until the next one, stir emotions and reactions until they feed the next one.  On top of that is social media, the unbridled, unregulated, un-responsible spewing of emotion and agitation. But what we are lacking in the 24-7 news system and talking heads is rational, detailed, thoughtful discourse and discussion about how to change the situation.  The challenge is how to bring morals into the discussion if not the equation, since without morals people discount any life but their own.  How to discuss family values (honesty, honor, work, responsibility, openness, etc.) to enable and enhance the ability of the next generation to survive and thrive.  How to rectify structural inequalities and situations that exists in terms of education, health, opportunity. One side needs to understand that opportunity isn’t handed out; the other needs to realize that without assistance (or individual miracle) there is no opportunity.

So today another officer was killed. The 24-7 coverage roles on.

And therift between the sides widens a little more.


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