Last week, the day after the Dallas shootings, I got into a bit of a kerfuffle with some Black Lives Matter folk. The exchanges happened exclusively over Facebook - in the comments section of an Event page for a Protest of the Killings for Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. The Event was being organized by the Coalition Against Endless War, which is a predominantly white organization. They were working in tandem with the local NAACP and with the Black Lives Matter groups, though the latter had no facebook presence and the protest was not on the BLM page.
When I got the invite to the CAEW's event, I immediately started inviting my circles of friends on Facebook and via email and text. The original number of invitees was in the low 200s, once I'd invited all the connections I have in Highland Park and New Brunswick and from the vigil we held for Orlando, the invitee list was up in the high 400s - around 460 or so. It was at this point that someone posted the following message on the page:
Hey I'm apart of BlackLivesMatter in Austin, Texas. My friend linked me to your event. And I'm concerned that there are seemingly not many black people who are being invited to this event, which is especially troubling considering the racial makeup of New Brunswick as a whole. I have a question: are you all affiliated with the official BLM network? If so, more black people should be involved in the running of this event, due to the type of movement that BLM is.
Admittedly, I didn't read this post very carefully. I was feeling frantic about the Dallas shootings and about an all-out race war starting within moments. I was feeling quite terrified and overwhelmed. When I read this what I focused on was the idea that white people shouldn't make up a majority of a BLM event. Again, I don't know much about the inner workings of BLM as a movement and I'm not in the movement. But, I just felt - so strongly - that this rejection of support from white people was so myopic, so narrow-minded, that it was truly offensive. So, I wrote back:
I'm sure it won't be surprising to you that my writing "This is not a black issue," was the only aspect of what I wrote that got attention. And it got a whole lot of attention (from about half a dozen people). And it was misconstrued and re-contextualized in ways that had nothing to do with what I was saying. This back and forth went on most of the day. I continued to try to make my point that ALL OF US are on the hook. Why exclude white people, when white people are part of the problem and part of the solution, too?