Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Untying the knots—Black Lives Matter: Is this a racist term?

Black Lives Matter
by the High Priest of Prickly Bog


Is this a racist term?

Many people are claiming that the term “Black Lives Matter”
is a form of pro-black racism; that it consciously excludes whites
and therefore implies that white lives do not matter.

The response from “Black Lives Matter” supporters is that the statement addresses the fact that blacks lives have not seemed to matter to many in our racially biassed society, and therefore, to say “All Lives Matter” (or something similar which might be more inclusive of whites) does not convey the sentiment accurately. White lives – they state – in this society already matter, whereas black lives appear not to.

I myself have difficulty with the term, simply because it does seem to exclude anyone who isn’t “black.” And yet I support the sentiment wholeheartedly. Having been the victim of much racism during my childhood in London – I was called everything from “blacky” to “browny” to “gollywog”
to “nig-nog” and much worse – I decided at an early age that any kind of racism (or appearance of racism) was wrong, and therefore must be avoided — particularly when trying to correct the problem of racism.
I have tried to come up with alternative phrases that do not offend whites quite so much, but none quite work. “Even Black Lives Matter,” seems to further denigrate black people as if… yes, they matter… but not as much. “Black Lives Matter Too,” is a little less demeaning, but still carries some of the character of the former. So I shall leave that up to others to come up with something more suitable if it is absolutely necessary.
The issue I would like to address here is that, for me, the very idea of separating the races in this way, seems to be in itself a racist act. And “people of color,” all over the world, have been complicit with “white people” in continuing to reinforce this notion that we are divided into racial groups. The science of genetics has proven that there are no racial differences between humans. There is absolutely only one race, and we are all part of it.
One unfortunate commonality we share, is that we all seem to want to keep alive the idea of different races.

Now, on the face of it (if you’ll pardon the pun) anyone with a pair of eyes can see that there are no black people and no white people. There are only constantly varying shades of brown (or beige, if you prefer). And yet, in our ignorance we each draw this ridiculous line that anyone darker than a particular shade (depending on who is choosing) is somehow different from anyone who is lighter. It is an insane way of looking at humanity. And yet we all do it. How many comedians  (black or white) do you know who have made a living by comparing the differences between black people and white people. Personally, I’m starting to find that kind of humor rather tired and not particularly funny anymore. It was Dorothy Parker who said, “Wit is the truth; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.” 
It is simply not true that people behave differently because of their race.

Admittedly, people do behave differently because of culture or upbringing, but it seems almost incredible that in 2016 we have to be reminded that culture and race are two very different things.
It’s a widely noticed phenomenon in human behaviour, that when we stare at something, we are drawn towards it unconsciously. When we obsess upon a problem we are more likely to make the problem worse. We all know that when we pick at a wound… it will never heal. This does not in any way mean that we should ignore the problem, or try to repress it. That will also not make it go away.

There is, however, a balance to be found… as in all things in life.

In South Africa, after the fall of apartheid, they introduced a beautiful solution.
It was called “Truth and Reconciliation.” The idea behind this was that all sins would be forgiven if they were admitted to. (Very similar to the Christian idea of confession, and probably influenced strongly by Bishop Tutu.) No blame or punishment would be incurred for past acts, but an acknowledgement of the dark history of apartheid, and an airing of wrongs committed would facilitate in letting the country move on and allow change to begin.

Maybe something similar could be initiated in America and England that would allow us all to acknowledge our racists feeling about one another.

Perhaps we can all start to examine how we perpetuate a system of racism by constantly separating ourselves from each other. Maybe if we can keep on reminding ourselves that we’re not actually different from each other – no matter what our history tells us… we are all of the same family, as yet each one of us is different from every other one. I know — it’s an old cliché. But sometimes we all need a reminder.


Only one race — Human Race.
Only one love — yours and mine.
Only one disgrace — never to have loved each other.
Only one time — Now!