Now I’m gonna talk about race. Second post, why not? Burn the place down.
Some bona fides: I’m a white guy who grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. The only black kid I knew when I was young had been adopted by a white family- his name was spelled Tyrone, but it was pronounced Byron. So, fairly white area.
Complicating things, historically, is my grandfather. He moved up to this area from Kentucky, started working in Henry Ford’s factories as part of that great migration northward for the $5 a day wage. After some time in the factory, he decided that he wanted to sell real estate, and made a better than average living doing it. Managed to join the heights of Dearborn society- joined Dearborn Country Club, rubbed shoulders with the elite of the time, including the incredibly racist mayor Orville Hubbard. How, you ask, did Grandpa actually make his money? By scaring working class white people. He’d go into one of the white working class neighborhoods in the city, get the listing for a family that wanted to sell. Then, he’d take a black family, and show them the house. And, he’d be loud about it, if you will. Then, he’d get the listings for the remainder of the neighborhood when the white families got scared. Never one to miss a trick, he’d then sell the scared white family a nice house out in the suburbs. So, he’d get the commissions on the suburb house, and also on the city house, both coming and going. Neat trick if you can manage it.
I say all of this to illustrate that I’m not a babe in the woods when it comes to race relations. I’m very well aware of the racial history of this area, and what many of the contributing factors are. Further, in my own professional career, I’ve represented people who were horribly assaulted by the police, including a few who were actually killed by the police. I have no illusions about how the police relate to civilians, particularly black civilians. (Actually, a lot of it has to do with a socioeconomic class thing, but that’s for another day)
All of that said, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag activism? That’s bullshit. Know how I know? Watch the local Detroit news. It is readily abundant that all black lives don’t matter to large portions of the black populace of the city. It’s not just that black people are killing each other on a seemingly daily basis, it’s that when there’s a shooting at a block party in the city, no one seems to be able to identify the shooter to the cops. Don’t tell me that Black Lives Matter, when no one can seem to identify the guy who shoots into a crowd and kills a 4 year old.
Is this my white privilege talking? Probably. You know what else? I’M ON YOUR SIDE. I believe strongly in the impact of generations of discrimination, lesser services, inadequate education, etc. I’m an ally. When you lose people like me, you’re fucked. Now do not misunderstand me- there is an important conversation that needs to happen, and is happening in this country about whether or not it’s a good idea to have an occupying army in our cities, and how the police interact with the populace. But, the message is just totally going to get lost when one sees a huge outcry about the death or injury of a young black male at the hands of the police, and then not a peep about the avalanche of young black males killed at each other’s hands. It’s easy for Fox News, Nolan Finley, and other conservatives to discount black people as thugs. Doesn’t make it right, just means that it’s reality.