Saturday, July 16, 2016

BLACK PROGRESS IN THE AGE OF BLACK LIVES MATTER

 as
 Link to Part 1 of this 2 part series: Black Lives Matter Too. The 3rd Anniversary

Reflecting on the third anniversary of Black Lives Matter has me wondering if I should be happy that young black people have no real appreciation for what it was like for parents to give life, to give birth to a child while thinking that it was very, very unlikely that black and brown sons, black and brown daughters could ever be president in their home country because they are black, asian, latinx, and half of the time female too. 


Every single person who was still a child when Barack Obama became president truly thinks the highest office in the land is available to absolutely anybody if they work hard enough to jump the usual hurdles plus the racial hurdles and then the gender hurdles too.  It is no longer just the naive white people, who think racism doesn't exist in significant quantities, who believe anybody can be president. This belief is a newly available to everyone. This is amazing to me. It should be amazing to everyone because this is a whole new reality as of 2008.

However this new reality can put blinders on a black person, especially if that person doesn't have a holistic appreciation for black history.





It's hard for me to wrap my head around someone failing to understand that Barack Obama being black in the white house --even if he hadn't done one dang thing for black people-- is a miracle in itself.  It's like some black people think white racism is a lot smaller and less powerful than it really is, and that older black people were just too dumb to stomp it out earlier, too "tolerant."
  


That must be why some of the same people who think Barack Obama being president is nothing also think Black Lives Matter has accomplished virtually nothing. But maybe my lack of any lasting disillusionment with Barack Obama, has to do with me not being naive enough to ever have a politician as a hero -- not even a first Black President.  




I'm kind of ashamed to admit it but I stopped reading Barack Obama's biography. And it wasn't because I was bored either. Anybody can get bored reading a book, even "an important book." I stopped reading because of the way he justified voting for a republican nominee for the supreme court.


Maybe that was a childish reaction, but his explanation of "that's just the way things get done" didn't sit nearly as well with me as this would have:  "the first nominee was worse, the second nominee was a lot worse, and the ones the republicans had on tap were worse still."  


In my mind you horse trade with the republicans by signing a bill you don't like, you trade signatures on bills each of you don't like when the bill the other guy wants just isn't that important to you. But you do not play political games when you are putting someone on the Supreme Court....for life.  




In other words, I stopped reading Barack Obama;s biography because he showed himself to be a politician. And, I don't like politicians much.  Since then, I've skimmed news articles that all indicate that he's not nearly as progressive as I would have liked the first black president to be. 

However, I never thought I'd get to see a black president in my lifetime and I never thought he was going to be as progressive and
pro-taking-care-of-the-group-furthest-from-whiteness and therefore most targeted for abuse as I wanted because I don't really believe in miraculous leaps forward as much as I believe in small steps forward when the other side is more powerful and pushing back so very, very hard.  


And in 2008, it seemed perfectly obvious to me
that a first black president 
APPEALING ENOUGH to white voters 
to get into office




WITH

black people only being 13% of the population
WHILE 
white people still have 95% of the power




was never going to be as black and progressive 

as any black president I could conjure in my imagination.


So now I'm wondering what the heck other black people, the ones disgusted and disappointed in President Obama, were expecting.  I also wonder if these disgusted and disappointed people are still sucking their thumbs and having mommy tuck them in at night, frankly.


No, President Obama is not the black president I would have created in a gigantic grown-man-sized test tube.   But yes, President Obama is a sign of black progress which is dependent on a decrease or change in shape or quantity of white racism.  No, this positive change in white racism does not mean we are anywhere near or nearer a post-racial society. But president Barack Obama means I can more easily believe that there will be another black president one day, possibly female, that is elected in a blacker/browner nation, who will be the next sign of even bigger progress, not the final sign of progress - because that person will be less dependent on white voter opinion.

And then there will be another black president after that.

In other words I wasn't expecting the first black president to be Black Obama Jesus or Black King Obama instead of just plain ole President Barack Obama, running a country with a congress both of which are steeped in white supremacy. Yeah, he could have done more or different things that directly affected black people-- I guess-- but I read enough of his biography to get why he hasn't, so far.



Frankly, there are a lot of childish black adults that think 13% of black people can change how comfortable this country feels for black people sans any change in the white racism of white people. There are black people who actually think we segregate ourselves, be perfect through respectability politics, only buy from our own, and rebuild a new Black Wall Street and have it not be burned to the ground AGAIN without enough political power to cover our financial power. These are the same people who don't want to understand that political power means dealing with white people who are the dominant culture, who will likely remain the dominant culture for some time even after their relative numbers diminish, if South Africa is any indication.

There may be a lesser number of black people, who also think in a childish manner, that white racism has to be 0% for black people to feel at home in this country.


Neither group is correct, in my opinion.


Black Lives Matter is correct in the assumption that there has to be change in racial relations  which can be translated as decreased unacknowledged white racism, decreased white denial, decreased white privilege, and elimination of white shame as shame keeps the denial portion in place.

Good thing there has been some positive change in race relations. It's just not happening as quickly as we'd like.

Twenty years ago or ten years ago, you couldn't have depended on 10 percent of white people to vote for a black man much less the 30ish percent that Barack Obama got, TWICE. 

Of course, white people were afraid their houses were about to be foreclosed on in 2007 (there are no racists in a foxhole being fired upon).  AND THEN John McCain practically handed President Obama the first election by selecting that ultimate ditzy dame from Alaska because he thought those who wanted to vote for Hillary would settle for her instead.

But Barack Obama still got close to 1/3 of the white vote. Always remember that systemic racism in this country is a white problem. And it can only be solved by white people. And that 1/3 of the white vote is not NOTHING. That is progress. 


The other thing that is not nothing is the resistance being put up by the half, or the vast majority of, the other 2/3s of the white voting population plus their friends and family. 


Again, I have to ask what 

those who think President Barack Obama being elected (7.5 years later) 
and Black Lives Matter's work (3 years later) 
have made no progress were expecting? 



  • Do some of us really think its possible for Black Lives Matter to raise the visibility of the deaths of black people killed by white cops and get no push back from the white power structure? 
  • Do some of us NOT realize that the evolution of the Tea Party is white push back? 
  • Do some of us NOT realize that the nomination of the overt racist Donald Trump for presidential nominee is even harder white push back? 
  • Do some of us NOT realize that white people bothering to push back means white people have something real to worry about?
  • Do some of us NOT realize that white push back is progress in itself in that it indicates we are making inroads here and there and everywhere? (We may or may not slide back some, but we'll move forward again. Battles. Wars. Keep your mind on which is which.)

  • Do some of us NOT realize that black deaths by cops used to be reported locally only, if at all, on page 10 of the local newspaper before Black Lives Matter? 
  • Do some of us NOT realize that black deaths by cops probably have NOT increased over the levels of 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, that it's just black social media structure led by Black Lives Matter that have made black deaths by cop national news (and profitable for news outlets?) 
  • Do some of us NOT realize that some black deaths becoming national news so regularly is progress? 
  • Do some of us NOT realize that black females deaths STILL aren't being reported as regularly is a fracture in that progress and in our wholeness as a black community? 




  • Were some of us NOT paying attention to the fact that some(?)/half(?)/majority(?) of the police murderers of black people weren't getting anywhere near a grand jury until Black Lives Matter put a spotlight on them?
  • Were some of us expecting an instant change of white hearts and minds after  1  year of Black Lives Matter Protests? 
  • Were some of us expecting that shining a spotlight on 20 deaths of black innocents, 30 deaths of black innocents, or 50 deaths of black innocents at the hands of police officers over the course of one year was going to bring indictments and jail of police officers?
  • Were some of us naive enough to believe that the recently increased estimates for lynching in the 1800s and 1900s are anywhere near high enough, considering how many of black brothers and especially black sisters are NOT BEING COUNTED right now in this age of technology?
  • Were some of us naive enough to believe that number of innocent black people killed last year is as high as it was in 1870, 1880, and 1890 (as some as claimed) -- when the vast majority of black people lived in the south side-by-side with poor white southerners that were damn near rabid after having lost the civil war and along with it their higher status born of simply being white?   



Were some of us really not expecting a progression?



Step 0: No grand jury at all  (George Zimmerman, policeman wanna-be, got close to this before he made headlines)


Step 1: Partial Public Opinion Indictment, Grand jury no indictment



Step 2: Partial Public Opinion Indictment, Grand jury indictment, judge dismissal 



Step 3: Partial Public Opinion Indictment, Grand jury indictment, gets to court and judge dismissal



Step 4: Partial Public Opinion Indictment, Grand jury indictment, gets to court and gets past judge, jury finds innocent 



Step 5: Bigger Public Opinion Indictment, Grand jury indictment, gets to court and gets past judge, jury finds innocent



Step 6: Bigger Public Opinion Indictment, Grand jury indictment, gets to court and gets past judge, jury conviction 10% of the time.  




Step 7: Bigger Public Opinion Indictment, Grand jury indictment, gets to court and gets past judge, jury conviction 50% of the time.  



Step 8: Step 6: Bigger Public Opinion Indictment, Grand jury indictment, gets to court and gets past judge, jury conviction 80% of the time.  


If you think racism will ever disappear from this country, I think you're crazy.

Racism always precedes race because racism is just one more way for one group of people to look at another group of people and say, 

"Those people don't deserve the same size slice of the pie that we're getting because ______"
(fill in the blank with what you like)

Human beings are greedy and security driven both. The -isms are a way for a person to be safe within a group and also grab more/more/more for me at the very same time.  Therefore some degree of racism, sexism, etc will always be with us.

But we can, for damn sure, reduce racism, sexism, and misogyny quite a bit from what it is now.

So if I look down from heaven 50 years from now, I'll be happy at step 8. I expect those still just human, not yet made divine, will still be dissatisfied. And that's a good thing too.


That's a good thing because for so long as you're dissatisfied with less than everything you have a right to, the longer and harder you'll work for future generations.

However, if so many of us naysay every damn thing, dismiss the imperfect work of people in Black Lives Matter, and erase the work of black voter groups who removed white prosecutors after being inspired by Black Lives Matter, then many of us won't do or accomplish anything. Yet, I'm remember that someone once said that only 10% of black people did much to actively support the Civil Rights Movement.  And maybe a hopelessness similar to today's  hopelessness is why there was a 90 year gap from the end of Slavery to The Modern Civil Rights Movement. So I pray more of us are willing to take small signs of progress as inspiration -- or at least shut the hell up and stop spreading despair when we just can't see any light at the end of the tunnel.

Ultimately, I believe those unable to see incremental black progress will be speed bumps for some of to run over on our way to a finish line most of us know we'll never see. And that's going to have to be okay too. And it will be okay, because it was okay before -- just too slow for my liking.

If we don't want our next steps to be AS slow, each one of us is going to have to look in the mirror and figure out why we don't see progress where there IS progress and also figure how our own fear of failure is holding us back.