Wednesday, June 3, 2020

White Privilege and Black Lives Matter

On Sunday Jan and I participated in a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Conway. For most of the time we all stood quietly on the sidewalks at a major intersection in Conway Village.  Many of the people driving by honked their horns in support. From  time to time younger members of the group would lead us in chanting “No justice, no peace “ and “Black lives matter .”

It was in more than one sense a privilege to be there. As a person of privilege in our society it was important for me to use that position of privilege to stand up for those who had far too often been pushed to the margins, ignored, oppressed, and  killed. By those enslaved them, by lynch mobs, and even by those whom we authorize to protect and serve.

Two days after the Black Lives Matter demonstration I read a letter to the editor in our local newspaper. After a brief nod to the sorrow so many of us were feeling after the murder of George Floyd, the writer criticized us at great length for failing to condemn the looting that had accompanied some demonstrations in other in other cities. I shouldn’t have been surprised. That kind of response is so common in our society. Unless we condemn all violence the writer seemed  to be suggesting we have no right to condemn police brutality.

I am assuming that the writer of this letter to the editor is white,  a person who is protected by the color of their skin from having a police officer kneel on their neck until they die.  know my white skin protects me from that kind of death.  I just hope that at some point the writer will come to understand white privilege, and that until black lives matter as much as white lives American democracy is threatened.