Race being inherent in the topic, I should begin by explaining that I am an 80-year-old white guy, which means that I am not in BLM’s target demographic. On the other hand, I am not the target demographic for trigger-happy police either.
Nonetheless, I can readily understand why black Americans would rightly expect “equal justice.” Do we whites think that Black Americans are deaf and don’t hear the words “Liberty and Justice for All” and all that good stuff? They bleed on our battlefields in our endless wars, so why should they bleed on our streets?
Enter Black Lives Matter.
It was actually founded seven years ago, but it did not seem to get much attention by whites until this year, after two particularly outrageous killings: George Floyd by suffocation in Minneapolis, and Breonna Taylor, shot in a “no-knock” drug raid as she slept, in Louisville, Kentucky.
As the protests began, African Americans were surprised to find that whites joined in. Then the police started knocking over old white guys … on camera. How dare they! Then the police started attacking reporters … on camera! Very bad PR!
And away we went. And here we are. As a slogan and a cause Black Lives Matter is a great success, and deservedly so. Then Corporate America finally figured out that racism is really bad for business, and not just because rioters break windows and steal sneakers.
So let’s all get together … Oops. It turns out that two of the founders of BLM described themselves as “Marxists.”
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors says, “We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia in particular, we’re trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on ideological theories.”
Frankly, Marxism was a serious threat to capitalism and personal freedom once upon a time, but now it is simply an embarrassing impediment to working with the American business community which is essential for any meaningful change.
But never mind … The reason that I say that BLM is necessary but not sufficient is because it is much too “conservative” in its objectives.
Consider: What if we could wave a magic wand — or magic billy club — and Black Americans were no more likely to be killed than whites?
Could we all just go home? No.
And although “All Lives Matter” is mostly just a slogan to diminish BLM, the fact is that Latinos are also disproportionately victims of police violence, and how are things where the people are mostly poor whites???
But we must also say, All Black Lives Matter. What about Blacks killed in the Drug Wars? Not just by the police like Breonna Taylor, but by gang wars within the Black community. Ending the Drug War must be an essential part of criminal justice reform.
But think of the other slogans that BLM has spawned. “Abolish the Police”? Or just “Defund” … So far all the slogans have done is to provide fodder for President Trump’s re-election campaign. Of course, law enforcement in the U.S. is mostly controlled by state and local governments, not the federal government, so Trump’s ads are fundamentally dishonest.
However, poor people of all races need police protection even more than the rich who live behind gates.
Predictably, BLM has started to deteriorate into “Street Theater,” like “Occupy Wall Street” in 2011.
In New York City, the utterly incompetent mayor helped make it quite literal “Street Theater” by joining in as BLM supporters painted “Black Lives Matter” in huge yellow letters on Fifth Avenues in front of Trump Towers. Are we having fun yet?
Meanwhile the BLM website does not even mention the Drug War. “Criminal Justice Reform” is only mentioned in passing, and a search for “marijuana” yields nothing, even though marijuana prohibition is a major source of black arrests.
I am not going to tell African Americans what they should do, but I am going to tell the American business community that we cannot just back BLM and think we have done our duty.
An important part of any effort to improve the well-being of African Americans must include investments in black entrepreneurs. That is something that Marxists obviously cannot do. Only the business community can produce the fundamental reforms necessary to end racism in the streets, in the courts, in business and in our public lives.
Or does Freedom really matter?
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author on the Real Tested CBD blog.