The Everyday Crimes of Race and Class

Consider carefully the U.S. when children were subjected to horrific labor.

Were the children culpable for that abuse? Did children have the physical or political power to end the abuse?

Or were the adults responsible—the only agents of that process capable of ending child labor?

These may seem to be silly questions with obvious answers, but when racism, classism, and sexism are confronted in the U.S., many shift the accusatory finger to the victims, calling for the victims themselves to right the wrongs leveled against them.

Black and brown people in the U.S. did not create racism, do not perpetuate racism, and cannot end racism. Poor people do not cause poverty, and despite what pandering conservatives believe, cannot “think [their] way out of poverty.” And women are not the cause of rape culture, inequitable pay, and domestic abuse; they cannot end them either.

Change ultimately lies with those who have power—physical, political, financial, ideological.

And there isn’t a damn thing fair about who has power in the U.S.—or who does not.

And while the U.S. has mostly eradicated child labor through laws, we are still confronted with Tamir Rice—a boy, a child shot and killed by a police officer sworn to protect and serve.

Tamir Rice was a child.

For the most part, those people with power don’t give a real damn about Rice’s tragic story. There is some passing rhetoric, but there is no action to prove otherwise.

Philando Castile lies before us now. His tragic story also means almost nothing to those with power, but the lessons are dark and powerful:

“What Mr. Castile symbolizes for a lot of us working in public defense is that driving offenses are typically just crimes of poverty,” says Erik Sandvick, a public defender in Ramsey County, which includes St. Paul and its suburbs….

Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University and the author of Crook County, which documents the problems in the criminal justice system of Chicago, said Castile was the “classic case” of what criminologists have called “net widening,” or the move of local authorities to criminalize more and more aspects of regular life.

“It is in particular a way that people of color and the poor are victimized on a daily basis,” Gonzalez Van Cleve said.

Rice and Castile were criminalized—rendered by the mere facts of race and class.

Being black or brown, poor, or female are burdens from which people cannot take a vacation. Because of systemic racism, classism, and sexism, the condition of scarcity “leaves citizens with no good choices — having to pick, for instance, whether to pay a fine or pay for car insurance,” as Castile represents.

Interpreting Tamir Rice as older than his age and violent, dangerous was nested in the police officer—not Rice.

That officer was an agent of systemic racism that justifies excessive use of force, racial profiling, and a whole host of criminalizing practices by the state.

From school-based discipline polices to zero tolerance, we have ample evidence that formal schooling creates criminals in the same ways policing creates criminals in some neighborhoods (read poor and black, brown).

But as we ignore the tragic stories and lessons of Rice and Castile—among so many others—we also ignore who controls the game.

One day, marijuana possession and sales are crimes, and then, the next, marijuana possession and sales are good ol’ business. In the first case, criminalizing disproportionately black and poor people, and in the second case, making monied white folk wealthier.

There is nothing inherently right or wrong about using or selling marijuana; only who controls the right and wrong matters.

Racism targeting blacks in the U.S. suggests the problems lie in blacks themselves. Classism in the U.S. blames laziness among the poor for poverty. Sexism deems women inferior to men and the cause of their own sexual abuse.

All of this, however, is as obvious as the opening questions.

Brock Turner—privileged, white, and drunk—and Judge Aaron Persky—white, male, and drunk on privilege—are the problems to be addressed.

The even uglier reality is that the power to admit these problems of white privilege and to do something about it rests in people just like Turner and Persky.

Adventures in Nonsense: Teaching Writing in the Accountability Era

No, it’s all nonsense, believe me.  I had no idea how much nonsense it was, but nonsense it all is.

Anna Scott, Notting Hill

Everything that is wrong with edujournalism and the teaching of writing in the accountability era can be found in Education Week: the anemic examination of the five-paragraph essay (or when edujournalists discover a field in the same way Columbus discovered America) and Lucy Calkin’s interview about the state of teaching writing (or when edugurus package and promote educommerce).

Both of these pieces frame how the teaching of writing now faces greater demands from (you guessed it) the Common Core. But neither piece admits that the Common Core is at best on life support or that this puts the cart before the horse.

You see, the teaching of writing should be driven by the field of composition—the decades of expertise that can be found in the scholarship of writers and teachers of writing as well as foundational and powerful organizations such as the National Writing Project and the National Council of Teachers of English.

The Common Core is no more than bureaucratic nonsense; these standards serve the needs of educommerce, but do not reflect the field of literacy, do not meet the needs of teachers or students.

And thus, these standards, the high-stakes tests inevitably linked to all standards, and the coverage of writing in EdWeek, as Anna Scott opined, it’s all nonsense.

A little history here: Zip back to 2005 when Thomas Newkirk detailed in English Journal that the “new” SAT writing section had already resulted in “students [being] coached to invent evidence if they were stuck.”

In other words, writing was reduced to conforming to the 25-minute, one-draft prompted assessment in one high-stakes test.

Newkirk confirmed what George Hillocks found about the accountability movement’s negative impact on writing:

[W]hen students have been subjected to this instruction for eight to ten years, they come to see the five paragraph theme and the shoddy thinking that goes with it as the solution to any writing problem. Directors of freshman English at three Illinois state universities have complained about the extent of the problem. The English department at Illinois State University publishes a manual advising their incoming freshmen that while the five para- graph essay may have been appropriate in high school, it is not appropriate in college and should be studiously avoided. It shuts down thinking.

This is a crucial time in American democracy. We are faced with problems that demand critical thinking of all citizens. We need to help students examine specious arguments and know them for what they are. Our tests encourage the opposite. They encourage blurry thinking and obfuscation. As a society, we cannot afford to spend valuable classroom time on vacuous thinking and writing. (p. 70)

So let’s consider the state of writing instruction in K-12 public schools—and let’s try looking at the overwhelming evidence as detailed by Applebee and Langer’s 2013 Writing Instruction That Works: Proven Methods for Middle and High School Classrooms.

In my review of this research, I detail both what we know about the state of teaching writing and what the roadblocks are to effective writing pedagogy:

In Chapter Two (Writing Instruction in Schools Today), Applebee and Langer (2013) lay the foundation for what becomes the refrain of the book:

“Overall, in comparison to the 1979–80 study, students in our study were writing more in all subjects, but that writing tended to be short and often did not provide students with opportunities to use composing as a way to think through the issues, to show the depth or breadth of their knowledge, or to make new connections or raise new issues…. The responses make it clear that relatively little writing was required even in English…. [W]riting on average mattered less than multiple-choice or short-answer questions in assessing performance in English…. Some teachers and administrators, in fact, were quite explicit about aligning their own testing with the high-stakes exams their students would face” (pp. 15-17)….

And those concerned about or in charge of education reform policy should use this study and analysis as a cautionary tale about the unintended and negative consequences of the current thirty-year accountability era that has failed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its call for scientifically based education policy (Thomas, 2013). Since the central message about the gap between best practice and the day-to-day reality of writing in U.S. middle and high schools is consistent in Applebee and Langer’s work, I want to highlight several key points and then conclude with a couple caveats that help inform teachers and policy makers:

  • Across disciplines, students are being asked to write briefly and rarely, with most writing falling within narrow templates that are unlike discipline-based or real-world writing.
  • Teachers tend to know about and embrace the value of writing to learn content, but rarely implement writing to achieve rich and complex examinations of prior or new learning.
  • Student technology savvy is high (notably related to social media), while teacher technology savvy remains low. Technology’s role in teaching and learning is detailed as, again, narrowed by high-stakes testing demands and “primarily…used to reinforce a presentational mode of teaching” (Applebee & Langer, 2013, p. 116). These findings call into question advocacy for greater investments in technology absent concern for how it is implemented as well as raising yet another caution about ignoring research showing that technology (especially word processing) has the potential to impact writing positively if implemented well.
  • While English language learners (ELLs) tend to be one category of students targeted by education reform and efforts to close achievement gaps, high-stakes testing and accountability stand between those students and the potential effectiveness of extended process writing in writing workshop experiences.
  • Like ELL students, students in poverty suffer the same fate of disproportionately experiencing narrow learning experiences that focus on test-prep and not best practice in writing instruction:

“By far the greatest difference between the high poverty and lower poverty schools we studied stemmed from the importance that teachers placed and administrators placed on high-stakes tests that students faced. In the higher poverty schools, fully 83% of teachers across subject areas reported state exams were important in shaping curriculum and instruction, compared with 64% of their colleagues in lower poverty schools” (Applebee & Langer, 2013, p. 149).

  • One important counter-narrative to the education reform focus on identifying top teachers is that Applebee and Langer (2013) note that when teachers have autonomy and implement best practice, high-poverty students outperform comparable high-poverty students in classrooms “with more traditional approaches to curriculum and instruction,” driven by test-prep (p. 148).

The problem with teaching writing is not that teachers lack knowledge of good writing pedagogy (although that certainly is a concern), but that accountability and high-stakes testing (read: Common Core and whatever the next wave is) have supplanted teacher autonomy and the expertise in the field of teaching writing.

The five-paragraph essay was never good writing pedagogy, and abdicating the field of composition to Common Core, any set of standards, any high-stakes testing, and the concurrent educommerce all that nonsense feeds is the problem with teaching writing.

Period.

July 2016 #BlackLivesMatter Reader (UPDATED)

Guiding Question: Why do we read and hear incessantly about black-on-black crime, but nothing about white-on-white crime?

Failsafe from Son of Baldwin

To begin, the fact that the term “black-on-black crime” exists in our lexicon, but not the term “white-on-white crime,” is one of the clearest signs that racism is a guiding principle in this country. And all one needs to do is look at the facts: 94% of all crimes committed against black people are committed by black people; 86% of all crimes committed against white people are committed by white people.

Surely, 86% is a number at which we can safely say that white-on-white crime is a very serious problem. Yet, we never do. The term is not in the dictionary. There is no Wikipedia entry for it. It is not browbeaten into the public consciousness. The media makes little to no mention of this term. There are no news specials dedicated to looking at this problem. Neither Oprah nor President Obama have touched on the topic.

As a result, black people are scapegoated and pathologized as especially criminal when, in reality, we are merely, pretty much, keeping pace with the rest of a society that thrives on violence. If black people are being asked to focus on black-on-black crime, then why aren’t white people being asked to focus on white-on-white crime? Why are some people so focused on black-on-black and black-on-white crime, but get upset when we focus on white-on-white or white-on-black crime?

Five Myths About Crime in Black America–and the Statistical Truths

crime_myths

After the bombing / speech at Ford Auditorium, Malcolm X

They used the press to make it look like he’s the criminal and they’re the victim. This is how they do it, and if you study how they do it [t]here, then you’ll know how they do it over here. It’s the same game going all the time, and if you and I don’t awaken and see what this man is doing to us, then it’ll be too late. They may have the gas ovens already built before you realize that they’re hot.

One of the shrewd ways that they use the press to project us in the eye or image of a criminal: they take statistics. And with the press they feed these statistics to the public, primarily the white public. Because there are some well-meaning persons in the white public as well as bad-meaning persons in the white public. And whatever the government is going to do, it always wants the public on its side, whether it’s the local government, state government, federal government. So they use the press to create images. And at the local level, they’ll create an image by feeding statistics to the press — through the press showing the high crime rate in the Negro community. As soon as this high crime rate is emphasized through the press, then people begin to look upon the Negro community as a community of criminals.

And then any Negro in the community can be stopped in the street. “Put your hands up,” and they pat you down. You might be a doctor, a lawyer, a preacher, or some other kind of Uncle Tom. But despite your professional standing, you’ll find that you’re the same victim as the man who’s in the alley. Just because you’re Black and you live in a Black community, which has been projected as a community of criminals. This is done. And once the public accepts this image also, it paves the way for a police-state type of activity in the Negro community. They can use any kind of brutal methods to suppress Blacks because “they’re criminals anyway.” And what has given this image? The press again, by letting the power structure or the racist element in the power structure use them in that way.

A very good example was the riots that took place here during the summer: I was in Africa, I read about them over there. If you’ll notice, they referred to the rioters as vandals, hoodlums, thieves. They tried to make it appear that this wasn’t — they tried to make it — and they did this. They skillfully took the burden off the society for its failure to correct these negative conditions in the Black community. It took the burden completely off the society and put it right on the community by using the press to make it appear that the looting and all of this was proof that the whole act was nothing but vandals and robbers and thieves, who weren’t really interested in anything other than that which was negative. And I hear many old, dumb, brainwashed Negroes who parrot the same old party line that the man handed down in his paper.

Here’s why I’m skeptical of Roland Fryer’s new, much-hyped study on police shootings, Dara Lind

So when the Times article summarily dismisses existing data as “poor,” and doesn’t explain what that data actually is, that should be a red flag — a clue that the article’s author isn’t going to provide you with an explanation of why this new data is so much better than the old data, and you’re going to have to do that yourself.

When Fryer (an economist by training) tells the Times that he got interested in police shootings because of “his anger after the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray,” and (in Fryer’s words) “decided I was going to collect a bunch of data and try to understand what really is going on,” that should be another humongous red flag.

It implies that Fryer assumed he was doing something pioneering, rather than asking first what work was already being done and what he could add to the existing conversation. This is something that often happens when people in “quantitative” social sciences, like economics, develop an interest in topics covered in other social sciences — in this case, criminology: They assume that no rigorous empirical work is being done.

See also Three Problems With How the NY Times Highlights a Non-Peer Reviewed Study Allegedly Showing No Racial Bias in Police Shootings, Sarah Beller, and A Multi-Level Bayesian Analysis of Racial Bias in Police Shootings at the County-Level in the United States, 2011–2014Cody T. Ross

A Nixon Is an Agnew Is a Wallace, Bayard Rustin (New York Amsterdam News, 24 August 1968, p.12, col. 3) [1]

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The Near Certainty of Anti-Police Violence, Ta-Nehisi Coates

To understand the lack of police legitimacy in black communities, consider the contempt in which most white Americans hold O.J. Simpson. Consider their feelings toward the judge and jury in the case. And then consider that this is approximately how black people have felt every few months for generations. It’s not just that the belief that Officer Timothy Loehmann got away with murdering a 12-year-old Tamir Rice, it is the reality that police officers have been getting away with murdering black people since the advent of American policing. The injustice compounds, congeals until there is an almost tangible sense of dread and grievance that compels a community to understand the police as objects of fear, not respect.

What does it mean, for instance, that black children are ritually told that any stray movement in the face of the police might result in their own legal killing? When Eric Holder spoke about getting “The Talk” from his father, and then giving it to his own son, many of us nodded our heads. But many more of us were terrified. When the nation’s top cop must warn his children to be skeptical of his own troops, how legitimate can the police actually be?

Death in Black and White [2]

In the wake of these deaths and the protests surrounding them, you, white America, say that black folks kill each other every day without a mumbling word while we thunderously protest a few cops, usually but not always white, who shoot to death black people who you deem to be mostly “thugs.”

That such an accusation is nonsense is nearly beside the point. Black people protest, to one another, to a world that largely refuses to listen, that what goes on in black communities across this nation is horrid, as it would be in any neighborhood depleted of dollars and hope — emptied of good schools, and deprived of social and economic buffers against brutality. People usually murder where they nest; they aim their rage at easy targets.

It is not best understood as black-on-black crime; rather, it is neighbor-to-neighbor carnage. If their neighbors were white, they’d get no exemption from the crime that plagues human beings who happen to be black. If you want interracial killing, you have to have interracial communities….

Whiteness is blindness. It is the wish not to see what it will not know.

Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no., Wesley Lowery

According to the most recent census data, there are nearly 160 million more white people in America than there are black people. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.

Walking While Black in the ‘White Gaze,’ George Yancy

A black boy carrying a telescope wasn’t conceivable — unless he had stolen it — given the white racist horizons within which my black body was policed as dangerous. To the officer, I was something (not someone) patently foolish, perhaps monstrous or even fictional. My telescope, for him, was a weapon.

In retrospect, I can see the headlines: “Black Boy Shot and Killed While Searching the Cosmos.”

That was more than 30 years ago. Only last week, our actual headlines were full of reflections on the 1963 March on Washington, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and President Obama’s own speech at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate it 50 years on. As the many accounts from that long ago day will tell you, much has changed for the better. But some things — those perhaps more deeply embedded in the American psyche — haven’t.  In fact, we should recall a speech given by Malcolm X in 1964 in which he said, “For the 20 million of us in America who are of African descent, it is not an American dream; it’s an American nightmare.”


[1] Courtesy Louis Moore.

[2] See earlier version Dyson was asked to revise: What White America Fails to See.

What Is the Agenda?: More Propaganda without Evidence

Yet more public relations propaganda about Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood from the Post and Courier—this time with a little extra ugliness not-so-subtly framing the article.

The “no excuses” charter school playbook is in full force as the article opens by focusing on the school’s selection process for teachers: you see, the real problem with schools is teachers who don’t care, who don’t try, and who embody the soft bigotry of low expectations:

“You’d think that those would be pretty simple questions,” Campbell said. “If you’re in education, you should assume that all kids can learn. But there’s a lot of implicit bias in teachers that we’ve found (toward) kids in poverty, kids of color.”

Trigger: “bad” teacher myth.

And then, while suggesting teachers are too often racists, the racism inherent in these sorts of takeover strategies is slipped in; you see, the other problem is poor black children need to be trained:

Brentwood’s high standards start with behavior. Campbell said teachers instruct students in how to walk in the halls, how to act in the cafeteria and even how to sharpen a pencil.

“They get four lessons on the playground before they’re allowed to touch any equipment,” Campbell said.

Trigger: “grit” narrative.

But all this is old hat—the nasty “grit” and “no excuses” model—and the real ugliness is saved for the end:

Founder and CEO of Meeting Street Schools Ben Navarro also addressed some concerns raised by education activists, who have been unsuccessfully filing Freedom of Information Act requests with the district to see all of the funding sources at Brentwood. They have also objected to the school’s special waivers from South Carolina’s teacher employment protection laws. He said his school had more oversight than most others, as Postlewait sits on Brentwood’s executive committee.

“What is the agenda of people doing the attacking? Is it about adults?” Navarro said.

That’s right, lazy bigoted teachers, poor black children in need of character training, and education activists with agendas—that’s what wrong with public education and serving high-poverty minority children.

Actually, methinks he doth protest too much.

If there is an agenda, we should suspect it is with those who haven’t provided the data.

The article gives a hint that Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood is making its grand claims of unusual success based on MAP scores—but there is no way to confirm if those claims and that data are really about anything exceptional.

The real story here is buried in the middle of the article:

Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood also offers what Campbell calls “wraparound services,” including a full-time speech therapist and a behavior interventionist. To maintain a racially diverse teaching staff, Meeting Street recruits teachers at historically black colleges and universities.

Part of the Meeting Street strategy also has to do with money. At Brentwood, Meeting Street Schools currently pitches in about $4,000 per student on top of the district’s $9,900 in per-pupil funding. The district’s partnership with Meeting Street Schools will reach a “sunset” after Burns and Brentwood have both expanded to the fifth grade, at which point the district will have to figure out how to fund the programs itself.

As I have been documenting [1], we know that money makes a difference when addressing high-poverty populations of students, we know that “miracle” schools almost always prove to be mirages, we know that charter schools who claim success usually benefit from student attrition and underserving high-needs populations (ELL and special needs students), and we know that small-scale success may be impossible to scale to all public schools.

What we don’t know is how or if any of this is relevant about Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood.

What we do know is that a lot of press release propaganda continues to roll out while the data that would settle the issue do not.

If “What is the agenda?” is good for educational advocates, it is certainly essential for those positioned to benefit from big claims and hedging on allowing third-party examinations of the full body of evidence.


[1] Don’t Trust Invested Advocates in Edureform WarsQuestions for the P&C about School Closure, TakeoverMore Questions for The Post and Courier: “Necessary Data” or Press-Release Journalism?

For Pre-order: Teaching Comics Through Multiple Lenses: Critical Perspectives

Teaching Comics Through Multiple Lenses: Critical Perspectives

Editor: Crag Allen Hill

9781138649903

About the Book

Building off the argument that comics succeed as literature—rich, complex narratives filled with compelling characters interrogating the thought-provoking issues of our time—this book argues that comics are an expressive medium whose moves (structural and aesthetic) may be shared by literature, the visual arts, and film, but beyond this are a unique art form possessing qualities these other mediums do not. Drawing from a range of current comics scholarship demonstrating this point, this book explores the unique intelligence/s of comics and how they expand the ways readers engage with the world in ways different than prose, or film, or other visual arts. Written by teachers and scholars of comics for instructors, this book bridges research and pedagogy, providing instructors with models of critical readings around a variety of comics.

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

1. Introduction: The Growing Relevance of Comics

Crag Hill

Section 1: Materiality and the Reading of Comics

2. Designing Meaning: A Multimodal Perspective on Comics Reading

Sean P. Connors

3. Multimodal Forms: Examining Text, Image, and Visual Literacy in Daniel Handler’s Why We Broke Up and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief

Amy Bright

Section 2: Comics and Bodies

4. Illustrating Youth: A Critical Examination of the Artful Depictions of

Adolescent Characters in Comics

Mark A. Lewis

5. Just Like Us? LGBTQ Characters in Mainstream Comics

A. Scott Henderson

Section 3: Comics and the Mind

6. Telling the Untellable: Comics and Language of Mental Illness

Sarah Thaller

7. Christian Forgiveness in Gene Luen Yang’s Animal Crackers and Eternal Smile: A Thematic Analysis

Jake Stratman

Section 4: Comics and Contemporary Society

8. Poverty Lines: Visual Depictions of Poverty and Social Class Realities in Comics

Fred Johnson, Whitworth University, and Janine J. Darragh, University of Idaho

9. Can Superhero Comics Defeat Racism?: Black Superheroes “Torn between Sci-Fi Fantasy and Cultural Reality”

P.L. Thomas

10. Teaching Native American Comics with Post-Colonial Theory

Lisa Schade Eckert

Section 5: Endpoints

11. Crag Hill

List of Contributors

Additional resources were compiled by Shaina Thomas.

For Whom We Worry, and Why: Fear in Black and Blue

As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

“Theme for English B,” Langston Hughes

I have family members and friends who have been and are currently police officers [1]. When I read or watch on local news about a police officer being shot or killed, I hold my breath for a second.

When I was dating my wife, we sat watching TV many evenings until very late waiting for her father to come home; he was a career highway patrolman. His walking through the front door was always a kind of relief, especially when he came home some times much later than usual.

There is something about living with the unspoken but ever-present fear of being a police officer, of being in the family of a police officer that is hard to understand if you have not lived it yourself.

But police officers choose their profession knowing it is inherently dangerous. There is no way to be relieved of that fear for their safety because the job—to protect and serve—cannot be separated from danger, the risk of death in the line of that service.

I also believe very strongly in professions of public service, having been a public school teacher for almost two decades.

Public service is a noble calling.

And then there are my son-in-law, granddaughter, and soon-to-arrive grandson.

My son-in-law is black and my grandchildren, bi-racial.

I worry about them as well, I fear for their safety.

My granddaughter is two years old now, becoming more and more verbal; she understands and uses more and more words.

Soon, too soon, she will discover that she lives in a world of racial slurs. Maybe one will be directed at her, maybe one will be used about her father.

I suspect “maybe” is naive, too much hedging here.

At the very least, to be black in the U.S. means living in the ever-present violence of racial slurs, and the systemic racism that appears invisible to whites.

I fear for these family members for the fact of their race—not something they have chosen, not some inevitable reality of pubic service.

Simply for existing with a degree of observable skin difference that allows bigots and people with good intentions to judge them, call them names, pay them less, deny them opportunities.

Soon, too soon, my granddaughter will begin to read this world and the constant drumbeat of one single message: black lives do not matter as much as white lives in the U.S.

Sure, there was a time when the counterculture slurred police officers with “pigs,” and I am certain—justified or not—there is a good deal of negative sentiments among some, or even many, about police officers.

But to protect and serve behind the badge of the state is a choice made by adults. Even without those negative sentiments, the job is dangerous. And any officer, any time can simply quit that work and do something else.

To be black in the U.S. is not a choice, not something from which someone can take a vacation or something someone can simply walk away from.

Every day black children discover the world is hostile to them simply because they are black. Not because they have done anything to deserve that hostility.

So, of course, all lives matter, and blue lives matter.

But using those slogans to reject, erase, marginalize the need for #BlackLivesMatter is spitting in the face of the very real violences that are guaranteed black people through no fault of their own simply by living in the U.S.

So just imagine two children—one the child of a police officer and one the child of a black man, woman or both.

One day you sit down the child of the police officer to explain that the job is dangerous.

One day you sit down the black child to explain the word “nigger.”

There is absolutely no way to avoid the first discussion.

And in the U.S., white folk have decided there is nothing we will do about the second.


[1] This same pattern holds for my family and friends who are in the military.

All Lives Matter as a response to #BlackLivesMatter is offensive because…

All Lives Matter as a response to Black Lives Matter is offensive because it is a white response that denies we live in a country that daily shows that white lives matter more and black lives often matter very little.

Whites with LESS education than blacks earn the same and higher salaries.

Whites who commit the SAME crimes as blacks are charged, convicted, and sentenced LESS.

Whites with elite college degrees are called back MORE than blacks with the same elite degrees for job interviews.

[See HERE for evidence related to above.]

White males outnumber black males 6 to 1 but black males are in prison 6 to 1 compared to white males BECAUSE BLACKS ARE TARGETED MORE OFTEN (read The New Jim Crow).

Black children are seen as much older than they really are compared to white children and thus are treated aggressively and harshly by authority figures (Tamir Rice).

Black Lives Matter is a call to recognize an evil in a country that claims to be free but where that applies only to some.

For good people who truly want all lives to matter, you must first acknowledge the regrettable need for Black Lives Matter and you must be in solidarity and resist the white urge to offer your “yes, but…” whitewashing of the ugly realities that created Black Lives Matter.

[If you have the social media urge to “yes, but” this post, I will delete it because that would prove you didn’t read and don’t, can’t get it. Otherwise, peace.]