The Color of Character

Black Lives Matter. So Do Tactics.

Hillary ClintonIn the recently released video of Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Julius Jones and four other representatives from Black Lives Matter, there was a remark made that bears examination. Mr. Jones told Hillary Clinton that the Black Lives Matter movement wants to change white hearts. I think Mr. Jones and the others in the movement have it wrong.

I think there are many whites, like me, whose hearts are in the right place. We carry no feelings of racial superiority or entitlement, and we want to see the black community thrive as well as any other Americans. We don’t see ourselves as obstacles. Whites in America are not a monolithic group that sits around making unilateral decisions on all matters related to race. Individually, we don’t know what we can do about many of the problems plaguing the black community – in fact, until you can teach us to see otherwise, many of us with our hearts in the right place, set much of the blame within the black community.

We see a large segment of the black population mired in crime, violence, unemployment and poverty. We see behaviors that emphasize differences in values from our own: education, self-improvement, strong family and social networks. The Black Lives Matter movement and spokespersons for the black community tell us this is all the fault of white America. This is where they lose an army of allies.

Hillary Clinton says that to see change, the movement needs to have specific plans. I agree, yet even if they do spell out plans towards breaking down what they see as America’s institutional racism, they ought to re-think their approach to the people whose help they need to solve specific problems. Their tactics alienate potential allies rather than build alliances. Placing blame and all the responsibility for improvement on the white community will not change hearts, minds, behaviors or whatever is necessary to positively motivate anyone. Nor will it enlighten the white community regarding how to participate in a solution.

The Black Lives Matter movement needs to look within the black community and began to change behaviors there. It’s a hard sell when the greatest danger to black lives is other blacks. I am assuming that many whites, like me, do not see the ongoing and ever deepening anti-social behaviors in the black communities as our individual faults. As I said, we don’t see ourselves as part of a larger group of white Americans plotting to keep blacks down. Instead we see a community that has its finger wagging in our faces with daily accusations of racist behavior and institutionalized oppression that we don’t recognize.

That brings me back to the point I have tried to make before. An accusatory monologue will never solve a problem. It takes an open, honest dialogue. Each party needs to be heard and validated. Shouting down politicians will get us nowhere.


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