Some number of years ago my father passed away from a brain tumor – like the one Senator Kennedy had. The type of tumor is called glioma. During his treatment and for awhile after his passing I was involved in raising money for glioma specific research. In fact, I even entered, trained and <strike>ran</strike> finished the Twin Cities Marathon under the banner bearing the brain tumor research colors.
During these years when I was most active in the cause I was often approached by other such organizations – by the dozen. We all are. Diabetes, breast cancer, HIV, cardiovascular and the list goes on and on. All noble and valid causes in their own right.
And, when scrutinized closer, may have a greater claim to my resources than glioma research. Maybe the death rate was higher than is for glioma. Perhaps more people are claimed than are by glioma. Perhaps research is making massive strides in this area but not in glioma and every cent could be the one that pushes the ball across the line.
But my passion was glioma. And that didn’t mean I disregarded the importance and nobility and tragedy that came contained in all the other equally noble causes.
For me – glioma mattered.
I suspect that how I embraced my passion then is how some people have come to embrace Black Lives Matter today. Right now, there is a segment of our population, my friends and my neighbors and my brothers who feel that the system is keeping them down.
They may be wrong!
But they may be right – and so now, their sense of feeling is valid.
It might be, after careful analysis, that our nation’s police are not seeing color – it might be that they are. It might be that our education system doesn’t serve our communities of color – it might be that such communities don’t prioritize such education. It might be that jobs are and are not given to people based on the tint of our skin. It might be that government policy has served our population – or it might be that such policies are destructive to that population.
But for now – there are people who have this feeling and we are obligated to at least listen to their grievance. And their solution.
I’ve thought a lot about those three words – Black Lives Matter. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there are most likely two, possibly three, messages being given AND heard when read internally. As below.
The first is the least likely interpretation :
black *lives* matter – this as opposed to liberty and say, property. To me, this interpretation makes it sound as if the LIFE of someone who is black matters, but nothing else. This reading of the phrase doesn’t ring true nor have I ever heard anyone speak as if this is the way they take it.
The second is how the right, for lack of a better word, takes it:
*black* lives matter – this as opposed to white lives or brown lives. Or red or yellow. This interpretation makes it sound as if ONLY black lives matter. All other lives matter, well, less.
The third is how I think the sincere Black Lives Matter advocate means it to sound:
black lives *matter* – this as opposed to NOT mattering. This reading makes the implicit case that right now, in our society, it feels like the lives of our black neighbors don’t matter. That’s how I hear it.
Now – that’s a lot to unpack. And if you’re with me so far, hold on.
This is NOT to say that the valid reading of the third example is grounds for the lawless behavior being demonstrated by the folks in the streets, and focused on in the media, that stoke and encourage violence and division. Far from it. Such behavior is not part of our culture and every effort should be made to eradicate it. But my point is –
My point is this. Just because someone has decided that they wanna “run the Twin Cities Marathon under the colors of BLM” doesn’t mean that they can’t simultaneously acknowledge other, perhaps more valid, ills that face our society. For some reason, most likely highly personal, this individual has, in this moment, decided to pick up the flag and take his turn carrying it forward.
Maybe tomorrow, when the pain has passed, he’ll turn to his left and hand the banner to someone else to dedicate his resources somewhere else. But not right now. Because right now, RIGHT NOW, glioma lives matter.
But what I really wrote this post about is not so much what matters – not because it’s not important, it is – but because I wanna point out what is destructive:
Roughly 20 people showed up on Sunday, some with the red flag and assault rifles, others holding up a “White Lives Matter” banner, in a protest against the NAACP, according to local media reports.
White Lives Matter has formed as a directed response to the Black Lives Matter movement, a civil rights campaign stemming from 2012 that advocates against anti-black racism and is known for its involvement in protests against police killings of black men across the country. Some counter-protesters, using the phrase “White Lives Matter,” argue that the Black Lives Matter movement is anti-white …
Look, I have issues with many individuals inside BLM, but the idea, or my reading of it, of the movement is noble. I am not so far gone that I can’t agree that agents of the state given permission to stop, search, frisk, arrest and use force can’t be corrupt at some point. Such is the nature of The State. I frown on the many examples of destruction carried out in the name of BLM in the same way that I frowned on the Occupy Wall Street jokers that carried on the way they did.
But bringing guns, the stars and bars and marching in front of the NAACP offices? Pathetic.
Get up, grow up and go back home!