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The Issues are on Our Side #2 Lives That Matter

Of course, all lives matter. However, many Republicans miss the point of the Black Lives Matter movement when they defer to the basic understanding that ALL lives do matter.

In my own life, I was exposed to this issue as a ten-year-old in the 1950s. We lived near the Wisconsin Dells and I had my first job mowing lawns at a resort for $.25 per hour. I knew there was one cabin available for rent yet when a Black family drove in by the office. My boss wouldn’t even come out of the office and ordered me to tell the family we had no vacancies. I knew it was wrong but did as ordered. The family knew I was lying, gave me a disgusted look, and peeled out of the driveway. That was my first lesson with this issue.

I would have many more, not the least of which was a trip through the heart of Illinois for a summer class at Southern Illinois University in the 1990s. I was aware of the mostly white drivers in cars along the way. The fact that the four police stops along the way were all of Black families really unsettled me, but It is a good example of what is at the heart of the BLM movement.

In general, there is no reason to lack the information for raising up BLM issues. A cursory look at our history of racial terrorism that includes a post-slavery century of over 4,700 lynchings and the criminal injustice fact that young Black men are 6 times more likely to be imprisoned than young white men. We also know that what happened to George Floyd was not an isolated issue. We can easily track other examples, such as the acquittals of two white supremacists guilty of hitting 24-year-old Brandon McClelland with a pickup and dragging him beneath it to his death in 2008 in Paris, Texas, and ask why.

When people challenge me on why I capitalize Black and not white in my writing, history is the answer. Nine million Africans brought here as slaves were disconnected from their ancestry and given English names that they had no connection to. It seems to me that one of the least things we can do, then, is capitalizing the ”B” as part of the broader discussion of issues that matter.

As Democrats, we need to be up to the challenge of patiently connecting to and explaining the history of why the BLM movement is so important to the national dialogue taking place right now.

Clif Morton

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