Hear Me Out: Welp, here we are again
September 3, 2020
Another round of civil unrest and ... it's tiring. The bad faith arguments are flying from every which direction, and they're genuinely exhausting, which is the design.
But, it's time to summon the strength and will of the late Chadwick Boseman.
As we've gotten more details about the Jacob Blake shooting, two parts of Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail have been on repeat in my mind:
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
That was written 57 years ago and is still relevant today.
It's funny, well, more telling, that in April, there wasn't much uproar about the "proper" way to protest as people marched on their state capitals across the country in protest of COVID-19 shutdown orders. There was damage to buildings and physical altercations with the police, but they were "patriots," so it was all good.
But when the NBA, WNBA, MLS, MLB and NHL (Even hockey!) players protest, it's not the right way. Again, funny and telling when people say it didn't make any sense, and it served no purpose. Even though minutes after boycotting their game, the Bucks had the Wisconsin Lt. Gov. and Wisconsin AG on the phone. A couple of days later, the NBA owners committed their arenas for voting stations in November. Maybe I'm too realistic, but I think that's a good start. This isn't a movie where all you need is one montage of uncoordinated white people dancing with Black people, and tada racism is dead.
Then you gotta love the bad faith arguments like "Ali or MLK Jr. wouldn't approve or do such a move." With zero snark, I'd encourage those who think that to read about those men. But it is hilarious that those two men are used as the "proper" way to protest. Because we all know MLK Jr. was absolutely beloved before he was assassinated. The same thing with Ali, he meant the world to everyone before Parkinson's took his speech away.
I'm curious, though, what even is a proper protest? Does it involve filling out the appropriate paperwork? Let's see hear, there's FormA113, FormEO820-93, Permit FW-NT731 and a pinky promise to keep it down. Your protest is approved.
The right to assemble is a First Amendment right. I know, peacefully assemble, and smashing up and burning poor defenseless property isn't peaceful. However, those are the bad apples doing that, and we can't judge all the apples because of a few bad apples, right?
No rational person is claiming Blake is an angel, as evident by the warrant for his arrest and why the police were there in the first place. But it also shouldn't be that hard to say, yes, Blake wasn't a model citizen. And yes, the officer was absolutely wrong to shoot Blake seven times in the back.
Saying Blake deserved it has nothing to do with justice. How can you separate yourself from the lawless if you're willing to bypass justice because "they deserved it"? Is it tough being a cop and being held to higher standards, you're damn right, but that's the job.
What's being asked for during these protests is the same justice, equality and benefit of the doubt be shown to African Americans like the rest of us.
This isn't a poor Black thing either. Look at what happened last year in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Raptors VP of basketball operations Masai Ujiri was attacked by a sheriff deputy when he tried to get on the court and celebrate with his team. That deputy and his department then attempted to smear Ujiri as if he were the aggressor and that he deserved it. The deputy also tried taking Ujiri and the NBA to court. If it wasn't for Ujiri's countersuit to get the bodycam footage - that clearly showed that the deputy and his department outright lied because the deputy was the aggressor who escalated the situation - it would have been he said, he said.
It shouldn't take being wealthy and having one of the most powerful professional sports leagues backing you for do justice.
If there is a silver lining in this, at least the "What about Black on Black murder?" counter has been laid to rest. (Or maybe it's gone dormant.) Obviously, it was used to deflect from the real issue because it's not like anyone who used it gave a damn about Black on Black murder. Minimal Googling shows that countless groups are trying to address the problem, and it's priority No. 1 among the Black community.
Also, it was a spectacularly dumb argument. When you really think about it, what are you getting at? Are you trying to say that Black people can't multitask? Is it, well they're killing themselves, who cares if some cops kill them. What's an acceptable murder rate? According to the FBI's 2018 homicide stats, Black on Black homicide accounts for 88 percent of Black homicide. If they got it down to below 80 percent, where the white on white homicide rate is, are they allowed to bringing up police shootings then?
In June, I said compassion, empathy, and checking our narcissism at the door is how we come out the better for this. That still holds, but if people want to keep digging their heels in and ignoring the injustice, we'll be in the same spot the next time it happens.
Alex Kuhn is the sports editor for the Northern Wyoming News.