OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
I’d say about once a week at work I get called a racist, either implicitly or explicitly– and that’s just what I know about. It’s kind of an occupational hazard at this point, to be honest.
No, I’m not a prison warden or a writer for Breitbart. I work with middle and high schoolers at an after-school program for at risk kids. There’s a pretty diverse population at our center in terms of race, sexual orientation, and social background. I’ve had to learn a lot about how to reach different kids and connect with people whose lives and experiences have pretty much nothing in common with mine except for where we spend weekdays from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. So while yes, I treat kids differently based on their needs, I have the same expectations for all of them. I expect them to work hard, to respect themselves and others, to be accountable, and to do their best.
Unfortunately, there’s this little movement, maybe you’ve heard of it, that’s pretty much encouraging the opposite. It’s called Black Lives Matter. In their own words,
“Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”
Not to be controversial or anything, but I call bullsh*t.
I call bullsh*t because I work for an organization that actually does combat and counter acts of violence, create space for black imagination and innovation, and center black joy. And I’ve seen the immediate improvements in black lives as a result.
Here’s the catch, though: We also create space for white imagination and innovation, and Latino and Asian and every other race and ethnicity of imagination and innovation. We center joy, period (whatever that means honestly, I’m just rolling with their verbiage).
And it’s bullsh*t because that is NOT what BLM is doing, and I know this because our mission of supporting and empowering the kids in our neighborhood has been putting us directly at odds with Black Lives Matter. Because what BLM is teaching our black kids is that no matter what they do, the color of their skin is A Problem. It’s not their fault if they fail a class or get in trouble for their behavior, it’s the system’s. It’s white people’s fault, and black people are the victims. This is the state of things no matter what you do. Regardless of the mission they espouse or what they think they’re doing, BLM and related movements are in actuality encouraging young black people to shirk accountability and personal responsibility.
So what happens when a worldwide organization is screaming this from the streets, in front of buildings they set on fire, and the media applauds them and screams it even louder? This generation of teens has unprecedented access to an unprecedented amount of information and misinformation. One of the things that makes them wonderful is that they are NOT apathetic about what they’re finding out. But they’re facing two competing entities: One that encourages them to think critically, do their research, and draw their own conclusions, and one that is more than happy to do their thinking for them. I wonder which one is winning?
The result of this struggle is that young people no longer understand what racism actually is and believe their problems are someone else’s to solve. And it’s NOT their fault. It ruins my day when I get called a racist for trying to figure out how a fight broke out, but not because my feelings are hurt. It ruins my day because it’s a vivid reminder that this generation of teenagers is being molded to deny accountability because it’s convenient for the powers that be.
And that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it? It’s convenient for black people to shirk personal responsibility because it means they’ll fail. When people don’t take responsibility for their education, their behavior, their actions, their lives, success eludes them. And when their lives are uncomfortable because they took no responsibility for them because they were told not to their whole lives, it’s really easy for someone to come along and say, “It’s not your fault your life is uncomfortable; vote for me and let me make it comfortable for you.”
Repeat ad infinitum.
Black Lives Matter is doing the dirty work of politicians who want to hold impoverished people hostage as a voter base by keeping them down. I’m seeing it play out first hand. I’m sure many of you are, too. The people who aren’t are the ones blindly swallowing whatever the media decides to feed them, holding signs in front of busted out storefronts because that’s what they’ve been told is helpful. They’ve been promised an official Not A Racist card if they pledge allegiance to the dogma of race-based helplessness (why does that sound so racist?) while anyone who dissents is labeled Evil Racist without exception.
And that’s my TED Talk on how people who work with black kids and black communities became the racists. What a topsy-turvy world it’s become when the ones who roll up their sleeves to be involved in improving literacy, lowering juvenile crime rates, and teaching life skills to at-risk and impoverished people are on the wrong side of history.
I’ll be honest, though, I kind of like it here. I kinda like my kids. I kinda like seeing them grow and succeed, and I dearly love to laugh. These goofy, wonderful punks sure make me laugh.