Black Lives Matter

A facebook post by a friend reminded me I wanted to discuss racial inequality in America. Big topic, yeah, but I only have a few thoughts right now. One thought, really. So many others are more eloquent than I.

The post was about a manager of the Cheesecake Factory in Tacoma, Washington kicking out a bunch of cops from the restaurant under the guise of the company’s policy of being weapons-free. Several of the cops were in uniform, with gun and badge visible. Others were plain clothes but apparently self-identified as police officers. The manager stated to these would-be customers that the policy was strict – no guns, not even those carried by law enforcement. The cops left, probably in a huff.

The Cheesecake Factory, however, does not have such a policy. While they are weapons-free (Yay!), a very reasonable exception is made for law enforcement officers. That Tacoma manager just didn’t know the policy or chose to expand it on his own. Cheesecake Factory apologized, but rather weakly, which prompted my local ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Facebook group to post declaring a boycott of Atlanta Cheesecake Factory outlets.

No. I’m not going to boycott any establishment because one of their rogue employees is an asshole and the company disavows said asshole’s acts on behalf of the company. I do think Cheesecake Factory should have an ‘LEO Eat Free Day’ or something, just to properly apologize. Maybe they’re doing that, I haven’t pulled the thread.

My wife and I have a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign in the front yard, as do a few of our middle-class, progressive-but-still-mostly-white-despite-being-in-a-predominantly-black-city neighbors. BLM is, of course, why there is such a thing as ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Facebook groups. Some people think that if you support BLM, you don’t value the lives of police officers as much. Which is bullshit. None of the people I know that support BLM think that way. None. Even worse is ‘All Lives Matter’. Well, duh, that’s the fucking point, isn’t it? Black lives matter and we’re taking a stand to point it out because there’s apparently a substantial segment of the law enforcement community in this country that doesn’t quite get it, and black men (and boys) are dying needlessly. But police officers have a right not to die needlessly, as well. That is so indisputable it should not need to be stated. The Dallas tragedy was just as horrifying to me as anyone. I support my local law enforcement and think they have a vital yet dangerous job to do, and largely do it well despite being underpaid. When I see an APD cruiser in my neighborhood, I get a lift. It’s good to see them on the job and I’m certainly not suspicious of their presence. But, I’m not black and I don’t live in a black neighborhood.

Imagine you’re in 1950’s America. You’re white. Rosa Parks has made headlines for doing what she did and the civil rights movement is gearing up. You see the protests and demonstrations across the country – black people demanding their constitutional rights. Demanding the right to sit in the front of the bus if they choose. You think, “Damn right!” But you, a white person, then also think, “Hey, I also have the right to sit in the front of the bus! It’s not just them! All people have the right to sit in the front of the bus!”

And of course, you’d be correct. You do have the right to sit in the front of the bus. But the difference between your situation and their’s couldn’t be more stark. You can sit wherever you fucking well please on that bus because you’re white and no one is going to say a damn thing. Your rights are already respected. Blacks?  Not so much. Then, and unfortunately, now.

My Black Lives Matter sign means that black lives are just as important as anyone else’s. It does not mean more important.

Stand up for the oppressed, for they too are your neighbors.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Can we all get along? – Rodney King


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