An email recently arrived in my inbox from a longtime Utah Jazz fan concerned and distressed by the team’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement. He said he’s been a Jazz fan for decades, but that he could no longer back the team. His complaint centered on two points.
First, he disagreed with the politics of the Black Lives Matter organization, which he claimed is Marxist at its core.
Second, he considered the notion that Black Lives Matter divisive. He wanted it made clear he believed that … all lives matter.
The initial disagreement presumably has its roots in — and has had its flames fanned by conservatives who are critical of — an interview done in 2015 by Patrisse Cullors, one of BLM’s three co-founders, along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. In that interview, recently cited by PolitiFact, Cullors said:
“We do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia, in particular, are trained organizers; we are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think what we really try to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many Black folks.”
These days when someone is characterized as a Marxist in the U.S., either by themselves or others, let’s just say it doesn’t resonate all that well. Karl Marx was a German philosopher and economist who championed socialism and communism, and the overthrow of capitalism. And if you want all the details, you can look him up. George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, he was not.
But here’s the thing about Black Lives Matter: It is much broader than any sort of philosophical or ideological tenet held by one of its co-founders. As the PolitiFact piece pointed out, most Americans are not into Marxism and all the scattered and far-reaching aspects of its economic and political pronouncements.
They are into equal social justice for their countrymen and countrywomen.
And that’s why the larger Black Lives Matter movement has taken hold with so many of them. There may be socialists within the push, people who profess some positions with which others do not agree, but that does not account for the millions and millions of Americans who have joined in with it. They are not Marxists, or wannabe destroyers of the traditional American family. They are fair-minded people who want equality and justice for all.
To them, the phrase Black Lives Matter refers not to a view held by a co-founder of an organization, or even to the organization itself, rather to a widened, significant social movement.
They are people who have had their fill of inequality, of witnessing people of color treated unfairly, differently — in some ways, tragically — than what the laws of the land and basic decency call for. They agree with the BLM premise, quoted from its website by PolitiFact, of “creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic and political power to thrive.”
Like everyone else.
As for the second point, the Jazz fan saying he believes, “All Lives Matter” … well, no kidding. Of course they do.
But all lives haven’t been marginalized the way the lives of so many people of color have been. And that’s the obvious point here, not any kind of shout for divisiveness. It’s as though some people don’t want to acknowledge that there’s been a sad-and-sorry problem in this country for a long, long time. Anyone who denies that isn’t paying attention. And that inequality, that blindness to it, is what’s trying to be eradicated here.
A preacher recently quite cleverly underscored the difference in emphasizing this by comparing those who complain about Black lives mattering instead of all lives doing likewise to those who would have been disturbed as they stood by while Christ taught the Sermon on the Mount, saying as he did, “Blessed are the poor.”
Countered they: “Well, no, Jesus, blessed are ALL people.”
No freaking duh.
Advice from this corner to that distressed Jazz fan — and anybody else who’s thinking like him — is to step back and take some more time to fully understand what has happened not just through history when it comes to the treatment of people of color in this country, but to take to heart what can be done now to make it better.
Comprehending that Black lives matter is no short to all lives mattering.
It’s that at this juncture one bit of emphasis, even if some of it comes from folks you disagree with politically, is widely needed because it has been ignored for so long in the past, and it is ignored, still, by far too many.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.