Hey guys! In light of what is going on in our country, I decided to take on more questions related to Black Lives Matter. You guys have a lot of questions in your quest to learn more about the movement and the plight of black people so I hope these responses help.
I am white and so is my boyfriend. I believe that the only way to be an ally to the black lives matter movement is to take action. We should be educating ourselves, amplifying the voices of the black community, use our own voices, donate, volunteer, sign petitions, VOTE, protest, help other protesters, have uncomfortable conversations with others about it, etc. At the very least we should be doing a few things on that list. Yesterday I was trying to have a conversation with my boyfriend about it. I told him that it’s important for us to take action if we want to make a difference. I told him this has been going on for way too long, we can't even imagine how difficult it is to be a black person in this world, and since the topic is “trending” there is actually a little bit of hope that things can change this time. He didn’t fully agree with me. He claims that having black friends is enough. He doesn’t understand that it’s not enough to not be racist and that we must be antiracist to see a change. He thinks that since this isn’t about him, he doesn’t need to do anything. I tried to explain to him that if enough people think like that, nothing would ever get done. We got in a fight and I’m still mad at him and he still doesn’t get it. So, my question to you is do you have any advice about what to say to him? Also, please correct me if you disagree with anything I said. I’m still learning. If it’s inappropriate to ask for your help, go ahead and ignore me if you’d like. I know it’s not POC’s job to educate us on this. I just figured since you said to ask anything, it might be okay. Please let me know what you think if you want to.
Let me just start off by saying that you are executing all of the right actions to be an ally for people of color and the Black Lives Matter movement. Now as for your man…we all know that the assertion and need to remind people that you have “black friends” is a huge microaggression. In light of the movement, there are several phrases and terms being thrown around and “microaggression” is one of them. Microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional, but they communicate hostile or negative racial messages or assumptions to the receiver. The fact that your boyfriend thinks, “having black friends is enough” is a microaggression. Having black friends or knowing some black people does not keep you from engaging in discriminatory or racist behavior.
This is why it is so important to educate yourself about the trials and experiences of black people in order to understand the weight behind this statement. If your answer to why you are not racist is because you have black friends, that comment in itself is racist. Why… because you are using your black friends as props to represent them as members of the black community to nullify the thought you might be racist. I highly doubt he is expressing these flippant feelings to his black friends. If his black friends knew he was making these statements and are permitting this behavior, then they are contributing to the problem for not holding your boyfriend accountable.
As for wondering what more you can do, to help your boyfriend, at the end of the day, this is a heart issue. You have to desire to be different and better within your heart first and then your actions will follow your heart’s aspirations. I am not going to give you advice on how to navigate your relationship. All you can continue to do is be a light in his life and lead by example. You ultimately will have to determine what you can and cannot handle in your relationship, and what you are willing to accept.
My husband and BIL were talking on the phone this morning and I caught pieces of it while I made breakfast for my kids. I am Hispanic and brown. My husband is Filipino/white. My BIL (also Filipino/white) was expressing his frustration with all the “racism protests” saying that black people always play the race card and why do they bring that attention to themselves by calling themselves “black”. My BIL is very opinionated and I want to confront him about his viewpoints but also wanted to get your perspective and help. I call myself brown all the time and never in a way to victimize myself so I’m not sure of his logic. Thanks so much!!
Dear My Latina Sister:
I think your brother-in-law should actually talk to black people about their experiences to understand why they refer to themselves as “black” before he automatically assumes we are playing the race card. Since you asked, I will tell you why we say black and maybe you can in turn provide this information to him. African-American is more of a politically correct term that is not inclusive of all black people. It only references those black people who are descendants of African slaves in this country. When you say African-American you are not encompassing those black people who live in America but are from other parts of the world other than Africa and may not identify as African-American. Those groups of people, however, may still consider black to be their identity. Using the term black is more inclusive.
Additionally, “’black” is a term that was used as a sense of pride and empowerment during the so-called "Black power" movement in the 60s and 70s. James Brown said it best, “Say it loud…I’m black and I’m proud.” In American society, the color black is associated with things that are bad, negative, and somewhat evil. The use of the term black became something not to be ashamed of, but something to be embraced.
Hi there, I am curious as to why you have not mentioned the blanket statements about law enforcement. There was a certain statement on your latest blog that got me thinking, “Trump generalized all protestors as ‘thugs.’ As someone who actually protested, what you don’t see on the news is that most of them have been peaceful. Not all protestors are thugs. They are just exercising their human rights.” Is there a specific reason why you have not condoned the fact law enforcement is being generalized in a negative way? Do you think this statement would also be correct? Media and people in our nation have generalized all law enforcement as “racist, ACAB, and evil”. As someone who has actually witnessed and seen officers that uphold their oath, what you don’t see on multiple media platforms is that most of them have been peaceful and shown great restraint, even while being attacked with a multitude of objects. Not all law enforcement is bad. They are just showing up to work and continuing to protect and serve their communities. I am just wondering why you haven’t defended law enforcement in particular, but talk about everything around it like looting, etc.?
Dear Blue Lives Matter:
One of my favorite sayings is, “I am not going to congratulate a fish for swimming.” I am not going to pat law enforcement on the back for doing the very job they take an oath to do…serve and protect us. If you are asking me why I am not defending law enforcement then you are missing the entire point of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black people have been dying at the hands of police brutality since the existence of the police. What we witnessed in Minneapolis with George Floyd paints the disgusting picture of what exactly is wrong with the police force. You have one officer committing a heinous act and three other offices that are staying quiet and allowing the despicable act to continue. Have you heard the analogy that has been circulating? If there are 100 police officers and 10 officers are bad, but the other 90 officers do not say anything regarding their bad behavior, how many bad officers do you have? The answer is 100. This is the problem. We see officers treating the profession as a fraternity rather than doing what is right.
The movement is not about saying that all police officers are bad. The movement is about inputting policies, procedures, and punishments in place so the bad officers and the complacent ones are held accountable for their unjust and gruesome behavior. The movement is about holding these officers to oaths they vowed to uphold as police officers. They should be protecting and serving and not killing black people without any justification or reason. Now is not the time to focus on the good police. Now is not the time to defend law enforcement. Now is the time to reform the police. Don’t you think that if you are one of the good ones, then you should want this type of reform so that you are not affiliated with the bad ones?