As a representative of several grassroots organizations, please understand that this post reflects only my personal prospective as it relates to the black lives matter movement. I'm writing from my heart and my best understanding. I'm' writing with 50 years living in a mixed race family, as a US Army grunt serving with some of the finest men of all racial backgrounds, as a 27 year basketball/football coach, 10 years of which was with teams comprised of predominantly black players.
Yet despite that background, while recently playing golf with my friend Bill, he made perhaps the most important of statements; "...as a white man in America, I can't say as I have any idea what it is like to be a black man in America". I can share all my stories, reflect my personal reality until I'm "blue in the face". But as we have learned over the last 6 weeks, considering others realities seems to be difficult in today's American culture.
To preface, my family background must play a role. In the year Martin Luther King was assassinated, our family was wonderfully and permanently grafted together as black and white. Since them, I have seen first hand (not second hand, not third), embedded racial bigotry every year of my life up to and including 2020. As such, my heart is heavily grieved. How we as a nation can't seem to find the means to simply find a way to reach across the racial divide and say we see, hear and value you is beyond my grasp of understanding.
Personally, I celebrate this moment of history that allows us as a nation to acknowledge that our founding as a nation was inherently flawed in implementation. It doesn't take from my patriotism to acknowledge that the founding document of our country, which brilliantly states "all men are created equal", yet kept enslaved a race of people was immediately at odds with the truth within that document. The effect of the inherent hypocrisy was implanted within the soul of those captured and sold into cruel slavery. That "all men are created equal" excluded them. It doesn't take from my patriotism to acknowledge history accurately.
We can endlessly debate the American Civil War. Fought over states rights or slavery right? All it takes is the courage to actually read the biographies of the participants, in their own words to learn of the abhorrent racism embedded throughout so many in both north and south. South Carolina first succeeded when "honest Abe" was elected. Lincoln's platform, by the way, was not making slavery illegal, but only to make it illegal in newly admitted states. Lincoln was elected President. Abraham Lincoln himself wrote in a letter to Horace Greeley "If I could preserve the union without freeing a single slave I would do it". I'm so happy that President Lincoln showed the human gift of being able to progress in views and found his way to truth. Oh would that gift be granted to us today. It does gratify my heart that there many white soldiers who gave their lives to end slavery, but history records there were many who did not. They simply fought to preserve the union and were abundantly nervous about "freed slaves". It's all right there to read. It doesn't take from my patriotism to acknowledge history accurately.
It's been 155 years since the Civil War and 100% of the black Americans I know personally, of which there are many, say the same thing; "I can experience blatant racism at any moment and never know when it will show up. Such things as being called a f'ing n'er, being frequently profiled as being a shop lifter, being disproportionately being pulled over in certain cities or regions etc. Their stories not mine, but 100% say this is their reality. Many of these stories come from very close personal friends, not anarchists by any means.
I can easily make the statement black lives matter. It doesn't take value from other people groups. It doesn't devalue my own race. It doesn't make me feel exclusionary. Quite the contrary. For me it acknowledges a people group whose inception into our wonderful but flawed founding was that their lives don't matter. It simply is a way for me to say that their lives matter do matter now and actually did matter in the years 1776, 1862, 1866, 1950, 1968, and 2020.
I can say black lives matter, without being caught up with the BLM organization in the same way I can say I'm a christian without supporting so many organized "christian" doctrines or even beliefs. For me, I can't allow myself to be bullied or coerced into making it about something it's not. I'm simply making a statement that to me, black lives matter.
Growing up in a mixed race family taught me many things. One of them is bloodline doesn't necessarily make you family. Sometimes we can choose to be family. In this moment of history, we can declare with a loud voice, welcome to the family. Full fledged, equal status, equal protection, equal opportunity, equal education, and yes, equally personally responsible, American family members.
Welcome. You matter.
Let me conclude with the topic of the next blog, a saboteur called "mob rule". I believe the absurdity of saying all law enforcement officers and/or regimes are racist is only matched by the absurdity that says no racism exists within any law enforcement officers and/or regimes. I have seen first hand (not second hand, not third) both. I will not participate in labeling all law enforcement with a tag of racist.
"This is a epoch of reconciliation for those who will be reconciled".