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It Depends On What You Mean By “Black”

 
c_corporal_montrell_jackson-2
Image Credit: ODMP.

Having just come home to Maine from attending the funerals for three slain police officers in Baton Rouge, I was again mystified as to why “Blue Lives Matter” and “Black Lives Matter” aren’t understood to refer to overlapping groups. Surely anyone who lives in an even moderately diverse city—or watches television— would notice that not all law enforcement officers are white?

In Dallas, surrounded by police officers of every hue and addressed by the remarkable Chief Brown, it seemed obvious enough to me that Micah Johnson, who only wanted to murder white officers, failed in this, at least; he managed to kill three white ones along with one Mexican-American and one Taiwanese-American.

Less picky, the Baton Rouge cop-killer murdered Corporal Montrell Jackson, who was just as black as the man, Alton Sterling, that his murderer wished to avenge.

It struck me that the failure of what gets referred to as “both sides” to communicate is rooted in semantics; when police officers and other ordinary Americans use the word “black” they do not mean what Black Lives Matter activists mean by the word.

An ordinary American looks around and sees a black president with a black family living in the White House. There’s a black attorney general, black government officials in major cities, and black police officers patrolling their neighborhoods. Ordinary American veterans served in the military alongside black people, often under the command of black officers. Ordinary Americans very often can boast (if they bother to boast about something so…ordinary) spouses, children and other family members of different races. Meanwhile, to ordinary Americans, the travails of black people living in poverty don’t look all that different from the struggles of their poor white neighbors.

So naturally, the ordinary American’s response to “Black Lives Matter” is to say what seems perfectly and inoffensively obvious: “All Lives Matter.”

The ordinary, older American sees Chief Brown, or Montrell Jackson or the president, and thinks “wow, cool! Things have changed.” As the president himself will sometimes admit, things have changed …but not enough. Just look at Ferguson, Baltimore, the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of white officers in Baton Rouge.

Given that Corporal Montrell Jackson and others like him are available, why would the likes of Alton Sterling (a documented domestic violence offender and sexual abuser armed with an illegal firearm) be anointed the very model of authentic blackness?

Because—silly ordinary Americans!— “blackness” isn’t about having black (or dark brown) skin. Blackness means being different from whiteness, with most of the characteristics ordinary Americans think of as being ordinary and American defined as “white.”

When a black person takes on those characteristics, they become less representative of “blackness.” (Hence the especially vicious vituperation heaped upon the heads of black police officers during #BLM protests.) This distinction was articulated in an essay on the website Everyday Feminism:

“Under white supremacy… those who most fully represent Blackness (the poor, queer, femme, disabled and women among the community) have nothing to celebrate.”

“If your activism prioritizes (some) people gaining rights over destroying the system, or doesn’t consider that part at all, it will never be activism that benefits the Blackest and poorest of us.” Everyday Feminism

Get that? Those who “most fully represent” Blackness are sexual minorities, impoverished, disabled or female (though my guess is that Michelle, or Oprah, don’t count either).

By this definition, Montrell Jackson is not black, and neither are Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Clarence Thomas or most of the many black police officers who joined me in honoring the dead in Dallas and Baton Rouge (nor, for that matter, those who traveled to Maine twenty years ago to honor my late husband).

In a startling variation on Martin Luther King’s formula, black people are indeed not to be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. If their character is demonstrably good, if they have made fine, intelligent choices and virtuous use of the life God gave to them, they are less black… or maybe not black at all.

How extraordinary. How idiotic.

Members have made 78 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of PHCheese Member

    I am beginning to wonder if there are any blue cities that have a white male as police chief.

    • #1
    • July 29, 2016 at 3:18 pm
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  2. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    The state trooper shot on the south side of town was an older black guy.

    http://wtvr.com/2016/07/28/verdict-murder-trial-master-trooper-junius-walker/

    • #2
    • July 29, 2016 at 3:27 pm
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  3. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive

    Great article Kate and you have particular credibility to author it. I hope it goes up out front.

    • #3
    • July 29, 2016 at 3:38 pm
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  4. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    Apparently, according to the Podcast, we are all racists on the right.

    • #4
    • July 29, 2016 at 4:09 pm
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  5. Profile photo of Doug Watt Member

    Perhaps Felon’s Lives Matter would be more inclusive. Felons come in all colors and even genders. The national organization could have chapters or subsets. Black Felons, White Felons, Hispanic Felons, and Asian Felons.

    They could have a national convention and invite politicians to speak and address issues that are a concern to felons, like high bail costs, and no turndown service and no mint on the pillow in prison before lights out. They could have a felon skills contest, like a fence jumping competition, a drive by shooting competition, and a running of the pit bulls.

    • #5
    • July 29, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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  6. Profile photo of Mate De Coolidge

    Anything to keep the cult of victimology going

    • #6
    • July 29, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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  7. Profile photo of TG Thatcher
    TG

    Kate Braestrup: “If your activism prioritizes (some) people gaining rights over destroying the system, or doesn’t consider that part at all, it will never be activism that benefits the Blackest and poorest of us.”

    They gave themselves away: They’re Marxists.

    Should we clue them in that Karl Marx was a white guy?

    • #7
    • July 29, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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  8. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor

    Thanks, Kate. Even after all these years, the black cops are seen as being co-opted by the system. I still remember Jason Riley writing in Please Stop Trying to Help Us that if you were a black kid who spoke proper English, got good grades, or “acted white,” you were ostracized. I think that is still going on. The greater community is not exacerbating the separation; I believe the Black Lives Matter group is. I just don’t understand it.

    • #8
    • July 29, 2016 at 4:37 pm
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  9. Profile photo of Franco Inactive

    It also depends on what is meant by “lives” and “matter’.

    None of this makes any sense.

    That Obama is “black” alone is a complete mind-f*** I’ve said it before. He’s half white (nothing wrong with that, right?). His father was from Africa who came here willingly to study, he grew up with his white mother and white grandparents in Hawaii and Indonesia with his Indonesian step-father. He went to Columbia and Harvard.

    I don’t even begin to entertain these idiotic categories that, as the OP points out, aren’t real categories anyway.

    • #9
    • July 29, 2016 at 4:53 pm
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  10. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Bryan G. Stephens:Apparently, according to the Podcast, we are all racists on the right.

    Don’t stress about about that. Roy just realized he’s insignificant and is lashing out like a child.

    • #10
    • July 29, 2016 at 5:28 pm
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  11. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Phenomenal article Kate.

    • #11
    • July 29, 2016 at 5:29 pm
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  12. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    DocJay:

    Bryan G. Stephens:Apparently, according to the Podcast, we are all racists on the right.

    Don’t stress about about that. Roy just realized he’s insignificant and is lashing out like a child.

    That seems to be the only way to get traction around here.

    Unless it is me, then it is out of bounds, apparently.

    • #12
    • July 29, 2016 at 5:35 pm
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  13. Profile photo of Johnnie Alum 13 Coolidge

    I bet that BLM believes that any successful black person is an Uncle Tom. That seems to be how BLM operates.

    Good article, Kate.

    • #13
    • July 29, 2016 at 5:46 pm
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  14. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Johnnie Alum 13:I bet that BLM believes that any successful black person is an Uncle Tom. That seems to be how BLM operates.

    Good article, Kate.

    Yes. Staying in democrat chains is preferable to them than hard work, success, and transcending all racial garbage to behave like a normal person.

    • #14
    • July 29, 2016 at 6:12 pm
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  15. Profile photo of The Dowager Jojo Inactive

    Bigot. Racist. Insensitively enjoying your white privilege.

    • #15
    • July 29, 2016 at 7:21 pm
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  16. Profile photo of Mate De Coolidge

    The Dowager Jojo:Bigot. Racist. Insensitively enjoying your white privilege.

    The whole idea of white privilege is inherently racist. It is amazing how this idea has gotten traction with the left but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. White privilege basically says that due to the fact that you are white, no matter what culture you derived from maybe an Irish endentured servent( basically a slave), an Eastern European who has spent years living under the oppression of soviet control. Also many Eastern Europeans who are of Slavic descent to which the word slave derives, a Jew who has been the canary in the coal mine for bad things to come if their people are oppressed or murdered, etc….It’s the most ridiculous self serving garbage idea I have ever heard and get really ticked that they actually have white privilage seminars on college campus to convince impressionable white college students that they are bad people simply because of the color of their skin. How is that not racist?

    • #16
    • July 29, 2016 at 7:32 pm
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  17. Profile photo of Mate De Coolidge

    @thedowagerjojo I was just venting I didn’t mean you bought into this garbage idea. Just to be clear

    • #17
    • July 29, 2016 at 7:33 pm
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  18. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    One of my army buddies is now a police officer in Baton Rouge.

    • #18
    • July 29, 2016 at 7:36 pm
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  19. Profile photo of MJBubba Member

    Well, there is some cultural truth underlying the concept of ‘white privilege.’

    In the South, even poor white trash can be assumed to have some knowledge of some of the basics needed to hold a job, which is not always true of poor urban blacks. For a variety of lamentable reasons, for example, a small but significant fraction of new high school graduates apply for jobs but do not know that they should show up on time for an interview appointment.

    This is much less likely to be true of white kids, even if nobody in their household has a job.

    You should listen to the tales of some of the job trainers around Memphis.

    • #19
    • July 29, 2016 at 7:48 pm
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  20. Profile photo of The Dowager Jojo Inactive

    Oh, I don’t buy the garbage idea but plenty of very “nice” people do, and they feel a smug superiority in their misguided moral narcissism. I had a most discouraging experience a couple weeks ago when the no doubt really good guy white pastor scolded the nearly all white congregation for “all lives matter.” I don’t belong to the church so felt it wrong to make a scene by leaving immediately but I left at the end of the sermon.

    I am sure we all know this is not the only topic where this goes on.

    • #20
    • July 29, 2016 at 7:51 pm
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  21. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    MJBubba:Well, there is some cultural truth underlying the concept of ‘white privilege.’

    In the South, even poor white trash can be assumed to have some knowledge of some of the basics needed to hold a job, which is not always true of poor urban blacks. For a variety of lamentable reasons, for example, a small but significant fraction of new high school graduates apply for jobs but do not know that they should show up on time for an interview appointment.

    This is much less likely to be true of white kids, even if nobody in their household has a job.

    You should listen to the tales of some of the job trainers around Memphis.

    I think we have also lost site of the -1/0/+1 all be different.

    The lack of a handicap is not the same as a privilege. If I stop helping someone, I haven’t hurt him.

    • #21
    • July 29, 2016 at 7:52 pm
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  22. Profile photo of GFHandle Member

    Kate Braestrup: How extraordinary. How idiotic.

    From your first sentence, I take it condolences are in order. What a sad event to have to attend.

    Excellent post. An idiotic case of the perfect squashing the good in its cradle. But this is not an ideology, it is an emotional pathology. And incurable, I think, though some have outgrown it.

    • #22
    • July 29, 2016 at 7:54 pm
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  23. Profile photo of The Dowager Jojo Inactive

    Incurable emotional pathology. Good phrase.

    • #23
    • July 29, 2016 at 8:05 pm
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  24. Profile photo of Theodoric of Freiberg Member

    MJBubba:Well, there is some cultural truth underlying the concept of ‘white privilege.’

    In the South, even poor white trash can be assumed to have some knowledge of some of the basics needed to hold a job, which is not always true of poor urban blacks. For a variety of lamentable reasons, for example, a small but significant fraction of new high school graduates apply for jobs but do not know that they should show up on time for an interview appointment.

    This is much less likely to be true of white kids, even if nobody in their household has a job.

    You should listen to the tales of some of the job trainers around Memphis.

    How is this an example of “white privilege?” If you said that new high school graduates who are white are hired at a much higher rate than equivalently skilled blacks, that may demonstrate “white privilege.” Having better job skills (like showing up on time for an interview) is not a privilege of an individual or a group.

    • #24
    • July 29, 2016 at 8:16 pm
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  25. Profile photo of The Dowager Jojo Inactive

    Of course there is a thing that is “white privilege”- contexts where there is subtle discrimination against black people. And of course most people saying “Black Lives Matter” don’t mean that white lives, or blue, don’t matter. But it’s the obnoxiousness of white liberals who think they have unique insight about this, and the destructiveness of whites and blacks who ride it into a race war / anti-police vendetta, that turn those from reasonable truths into sick propaganda.

    • #25
    • July 29, 2016 at 8:37 pm
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  26. Profile photo of Doctor Robert Member

    The Dowager Jojo:Oh, I don’t buy the garbage idea but plenty of very “nice” people do, and they feel a smug superiority in their misguided moral narcissism. I had a most discouraging experience a couple weeks ago when the no doubt really good guy white pastor scolded the nearly all white congregation for “all lives matter.” I don’t belong to the church so felt it wrong to make a scene by leaving immediately but I left at the end of the sermon.

    I am sure we all know this is not the only topic where this goes on.

    I’m white. My pastor is black, very black, and an ex-felon (although never imprisoned). His very deeply felt sermon a couple of weeks ago was on the topic of “all lives matter”. He included unborn lives, too. It could have been written by David French.

    My white wife, Asian daughter and I attend a mainly black church two towns away because we find the governing philosophy–humility before God, acceptance of Scripture, integrity in all human dealings, hard work–to be much better attuned to our own than those of the wishy washy feel good WASP congregations in our own town. Middle class, middle aged blacks are a deep well of potential political conservatives. After BHO is gone, that is.

    • #26
    • July 29, 2016 at 8:45 pm
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  27. Profile photo of Hammer, The Member

    yep!

    • #27
    • July 29, 2016 at 9:45 pm
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  28. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    If their character is demonstrably good, if they have made fine, intelligent choices and virtuous use of the life God gave to them, they are less black… or maybe not black at all.

    How extraordinary. How idiotic.

    The left doesn’t want blacks to succeed because then they’d be conservatives. So when a black person does succeed, he is ridiculed and called an Uncle Tom. As long as speaking well, getting an education, and having a career is called “acting white,” they will stay down, and the Simon Legrees in the white liberal establishment will continue to control them and garner their votes while not changing a thing for the better. Ironic considering that liberals always say they want to “change the world.” The realization that the left’s stated agenda is never their real one was what made me leave them for good by the age of 24. They make me sick.

    Really good post by Kate.

    • #28
    • July 29, 2016 at 9:46 pm
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  29. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator

    Kate Braestrup:In Dallas, surrounded by police officers of every hue and addressed by the remarkable Chief Brown, it seemed obvious enough to me that Micah Johnson, who only wanted to murder white officers, failed in this, at least; he managed to kill three white ones along with one Mexican-American and one Taiwanese-American.

    Are you sure that in Johnson’s taxonomy, Mexican-Americans and Asian Americans aren’t white?
    • #29
    • July 29, 2016 at 9:50 pm
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  30. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    James Of England:

    Kate Braestrup:In Dallas, surrounded by police officers of every hue and addressed by the remarkable Chief Brown, it seemed obvious enough to me that Micah Johnson, who only wanted to murder white officers, failed in this, at least; he managed to kill three white ones along with one Mexican-American and one Taiwanese-American.

    Are you sure that in Johnson’s taxonomy, Mexican-Americans and Asian Americans aren’t white?

    Remember when the lefties realized the guy who shot Trayvon Martin was hispanic, they suddenly started calling him a “white hispanic” hahaha.

    • #30
    • July 29, 2016 at 9:52 pm
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