Black Lives Matter…and other slogans

                Many slogans have flooded social media in the last few years. They have some things in common, and they also have differences.

                In the mid 1980’s worry about climate and concern for the health of our planet were prominent. A slogan that came out of this period was “Save the Rainforest”. Most people understood the genesis of these words and agreed that the slogan was an important aspect of rallying people to the cause of saving the Amazon rainforest. At that time it was being cut down and burned to the ground and it was clear that if that damage was not challenged then the climate and atmosphere of the earth would be in jeopardy. It was an existential threat that was widely recognized. There were no corresponding slogans such as “Save the Appalachian Forest” or “Save Fairmount Park”.

                The Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 that was undertaken by domestic terrorists caused a great deal of fear and concern in Boston and generated the slogan “Boston Strong.” Again, most people understood that this was an existential threat to the Boston citizenry. People did not object to the slogan and did not start similar slogans such as “Pittsburgh Strong” or “Minneapolis Strong.”

                Around 2013 a slogan appeared in popular culture – “Black Lives Matter”. The group was advocating non violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality. Black men and women were being killed on the streets or in their own apartments. Some of them were sleeping, or eating ice cream, or jogging in the streets. Here is a partial list of some of these killings:

Daniel Prude 2020                   Stephen Clark 2018

George Floyd 2020                  Botham Jean 2018

Breonna Taylor 2020               Atatiana Jefferson 2019

These examples also represent an existential threat to black lives, but the slogan was met with a great deal of resistance. Competing slogans became popular – “Blue Lives Matter”, White Lives Matter”, even “All Lives Matter.”

There has been a persistent denial of the wrongs done to the black population going back to slavery days. Many folks do not want to engage in a discussion of these wrongs (Jim Crow laws, red lining, voting restrictions, criminal lack of funding for public education, to name a few)  and what they have done to part of the American population.  

As a white male I am speaking mostly to other white folks. Those of you who think we live in a post racial society are mistaken and I urge you to rethink your beliefs in that regard. You could begin by simply reading – one suggestion would be “Begin Again” written by Eddie Glaude Jr. I will write more of what he is saying in his book in another blog entry.

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