TK Hayes – I originally wrote this after the many Black Lives Matter protests and the Charlottesville White Supremacist marches – given that events like this polarize both sides into action, denouncing one or the other as ‘thugs’ or ‘racist’. Want to know why the BLM movement is different from the extreme right movement? Especially when you claim they are both ‘violent’; and therefore somehow the same?
Here is some background to highlight the basis for a large difference.
World War II veterans all received a G.I. Bill. The white soldiers that receive the G.I. Bill got to invest their money into better schools because there were better schools for white people than colored people.
They got to buy real estate in better neighborhoods. Banks would not loan money to colored people even though the loans were backed by the GI Bill, and as a result, home ownership for whites soared and did almost nothing for people of color.
If whites stayed in that house for 40 or 50 years, as middle-class families did, AND because it was in a better neighborhood, the value of that real estate gained by several hundred percent over decades in most cases.
As a result, their total net worth was increased substantially, giving them, their children, and even grandchildren a far better boost and opportunity in life. This is fundamentally what built a strong a robust American middle class and the strongest economy in the world, i.e. “the greatest generation” we called them.
The black man received the same G.I. Bill, however they could not get loans, they could not get into good schools either, just because of the regular discrimination that existed until the civil rights movement in the 60’s. As a result, the people of color realized almost NO gain in net worth over the same period of time, impacting their children and grandchildren, and effectively keeping them poor, disenfranchised and suffering from discrimination.
But remember that the same GI Bill was offered to everyone, so most everyone has the perception that white and colored people actually had the same opportunities, which is a common falsehood believed by the vast majority of Americans.
The colored man couldn’t get into the same schools as a white man because it was not allowed. He couldn’t buy a house in the same neighborhood as the white man because it was not allowed. He couldn’t therefore get a better job than the white man because there’s no argument that the black man was paid less, had lower skills, and generally was more financially disenfranchised than the white man.
Move forward to the 60s and the Civil Rights movement. The white children still did better, they got a better education, and lived in a better house, went to better schools, and therefore got better jobs. So now you have white veteran adults building families, and their white children getting a better economic and educational upbringing.
The black family raised their black children in a much poorer environment, still through the 60s had less access to better schooling and better jobs. Therefore, we now have a second generation that is barely better off than the first generation.
But after the civil rights movement somehow, we all thought they were now equal, which fed the notion that somehow everything is now equal, therefore if people of color are ‘not making it’ that it must be their fault. After-all, they had the same GI Bill and they now have all the same opportunities.
So when colored people demand ‘justice’ and equality, the fact is that they are several generations behind financially due to societal structures that PREVENTED them from using the equal opportunity that may very well have been there on paper, but never was realized in the real world.
When Civil Rights activists protest for these ‘equal rights’, they are not being violent because they are demanding BETTER than everyone else. They are not being violent because they want it all for themselves. They were being violent because they cannot and had not EVER realized ‘equal’ rights. They were not demanding ‘special’ treatment for people of color, they were asking for equality with whites, as guaranteed by the law. And BTW, most of the movements were peaceful, the violence was initiated by law enforcement. But of course, anytime there is violence in a protest, the protesters themselves will be the ones accused at some level.
Now fast forward to all the other social issues facing people of color for generations, like higher rate of incarceration, longer penalties in jail terms for the same crimes, etc. People of color are even further upset and feel that they are not being treated equally. Which is true. They never achieved the equality that most of us enjoy.
The same thing happened with the gay movement throughout the 60s. Law enforcement would arrest you for being gay. Law enforcement would raid gay bars, and oppress gay people. The gay people of the time we’re not asking for an ‘all gay’ America. They were not asking for the oppression of people that were not gay. They were just asking for equal standing. They did not in any way advocate for the overthrow of the country in favor of gay people. Many violent protests broke out and once again, the gay people involved were the ones accused of being ‘violent’.
These are just a couple of examples where equality has been sought by a group, and both groups have been denounced as ‘violent’ or otherwise discredited, when in fact, all they ask for is equality.
So jump forward to Black Lives Matter. The black lives matter movement is a response to the direct killing of black people by law-enforcement. No one in the black lives movement has asked for an all-black society. No one in the black lives movement has asked for the oppression of other races, religions, or cultures.
All they have asked for is it equal footing, which is due (in part and for example) to the historical explanation I have already given. White people and the majority of Americans already believe that black people do in fact have equal rights. And
in the letter of the law, they do have equal rights, but in the practical reality of society and the application of our laws that simply is not true.
And sometimes violence ensues because they have NOT achieved equality and they are in fact generations behind, financially, educationally, and we continue to think they are ‘equal’.
Now jump to the Neo-Nazis, the KKK, the White nationalists and similar far-right groups. They absolutely advocate for an all white nation. An all Christian nation. They advocate for the ELIMINATION and OPPRESSION of people of color. They advocate for the elimination and oppression of Jews, gays and others. And they directly advocate for violence to achieve those goals.
So the difference with Black Lives Matter is they’re asking for equality. The extreme right is asking for superiority.
And if you don’t understand the difference, then you’re misinformed, uneducated, and quite likely part of the problem. There is a radical difference between a group that is advocating violence to oppress others versus using violence to stand up for your equal rights.
Update on March 21/2018 – TK Hayes
Charlie Sykes is a conservative writer, and staunch supporter of the GOP, but in this story from last year, his comments are true to form, even more so today. They are worth the repetition to make sure we do not forget where we are and how we got here. https://www.nytimes.com/…/charlie-sykes-is-unsure-about-the…
“Q: I’m assuming you’re not surprised by Trump’s inability to condemn the white-supremacist march.
A: I’m shocked but not surprised. Denouncing Nazis is the easiest thing in the world: All it requires is a modicum of historical perspective and a working moral compass. Instead, we got this Dumpster fire.”