Black Lives Matter, or My Fellow Whitemericans

4 10 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about Black Lives Matter over the past couple of months, because I am alive and have at least two functioning brain cells to rub together. It’s kind of unavoidable. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve wanted to write something, but I kept thinking that as a white person, I’m an outsider, and there’s just not much I can add to the discussion. Still, my brain kept rumbling around the issue, framing it and reframing it, and I finally realized that there is something I can add, albeit not something particularly unique. As a white person, I can hopefully speak to other white people who are struggling with recent events, as well as those who have a negative view of the activists and issues of the movement. So I’m going to try to do that here.

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Taking Exception to Exceptionalism, or Everything Sunny All The Time Always

23 02 2015

Forces in the Georgia State House are aligning against the new AP US History standards being put forth by College Board. Apparently they look at US History in too negative a light and focus too much on groups like the Black Panthers. I may have to read the new curriculum. I think the Black Panthers in particular offer an excellent teaching opportunity – if the United States has been such a paragon of freedom and virtue and equality, why did members of a particular race feel that it was reasonable and worthwhile to join and support an armed organization calling for radical change? Were they misled? Were they crazy? Let’s look at some of the things members of the organization said and weigh them against the historical facts of their era and come to a conclusion. We can take note of the fact that other groups were confronting the same issues with a nonviolent approach – maybe it would be instructive to see the reactions to their nonviolent protests. We could talk about things like the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, named for “a former Confederate brigadier general, U.S. Senator from Alabama and Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan,” or the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Lots of great opportunities for discussion there.

If you refuse to acknowledge that anything was ever wrong, you’re never equipped to confront new wrongs. If you only act like your country is perfect and has always been, you’ll never work to make it more perfect. There’s a line about those who don’t remember history, but I don’t remember it. Perhaps it bears repeating. Read the rest of this entry »