Black Lives Matter Goes Mainstream
Black Lives Matter.
How could three simple words infuriate so many fragile white people? Rudy Giuliani, for whom our lives mattered little when he was New York mayor, said the phrase was “inherently racist." Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck wondered why Black Lives Matter wasn't classified as a “hate group." She also probably wondered why air is invisible, but that's beside the point. Even Democrats had trouble saying, “Black lives matter."
But as I've pointed out previously, something changed after millions of Americans watched in horror as a police officer killed George Floyd on a Minneapolis city street. We also watched a father-son lynching duo hunt down and shoot Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight. Worse, these killings bore the bloody sanction of the state. Derek Chauvin and his three accomplices in blue would've walked if not for civilians with access to 21st Century cell phone technology. A dirty prosecutor in Georgia ruled Arbery's death “justified." Fortunately, Gregory McMichael was arrogant enough to leak video of his crime, like a racist Riddler.
Something finally clicked after all this senseless brutality, and white Americans — moderate Democrats and even Republicans — were able to say the words. They even joined the protests. Yes, Tucker Carlson is still a gross white supremacist who thinks Black Lives Matter isn't about Black lives all but dangerous people with those lives “coming for" decent Americans. And Laura Ingraham will always book guests from the Batshit Black Conservative Five & Dime to argue that Black Lives Matter is really just about the gays (many of whom are actually also Black).
However, their boss, Lachlan Murdoch, sent out the following memo.
Lachlan Murdoch writes in a new memo: "It is essential that we grieve with the Floyd family, closely listen to the… https://t.co/q20u0iMOJ1— Ben Smith (@Ben Smith)1591122846.0
Disney, Poshmark, and Papa John's (!) announced this week that they're no longer running ads on Carlson's hate jamboree. Carlson is just a bully but his target is far more popular than he is. According to a Civiqs poll, 53 percent of registered voters support Black Lives Matter, and only 25 percent oppose the movement. That's a 12-point shift in support since April. Black Lives Matter is more popular than either candidate for president, one of whom is human. It's like a Motown singing group or the 1988 starting lineup of the Lakers, but Black Lives Matter's popularity isn't dependent on whether we shut up and dribble so well that people forget we're Black or don't have to worry about racism. No, Black Lives Matter is literally the street where the president lives.
Although 55 percent of Republicans oppose Black Lives Matter, that's not an overwhelming majority of racists within an already racist friendly party. Only 24 percent of independent voters and 31 percent of white voters are in opposition to Black Lives Matter. That's not a winning political coalition. Carlson's rants aren't connecting with your Nana unless she was already sewing a Klan hood.
Of course, there'll always be this guy:
This headline also demonstrates how much journalism has suffered from the loss of devoted copyeditors. It's safe to assume that if someone compares Black Lives Matter to the Klu Klux Klan they aren't coming out to march with my people this weekend. Was there concern that readers would think, “Oh, he believes Black Lives Matter is just like a vicious white supremacist group that terrorized innocent people for decades. That's dumb as fuck, but maybe it's a compliment."
When an employee at a Mr. Pickles Sandwich Shop in Davis, California, wore a Black Lives Matter pin to work, the franchise owner, Mickey Mann, flipped out and complained in an email to his staff that they were trying to “force" their beliefs on him. Dude, it's not a magic pin. Looking at it won't make you like Black people. If we had a magic pin all this time, Trump's election is kinda on us.
Mann claimed that Black Lives Matter's "tactics are out of the Mafia play book." First place, the Mafia doesn't have a “play book." You don't want to have that stuff lying around in writing somewhere. It can come up at trial. Also, the Mafia doesn't march. They whack. I haven't seen the “No Justice, No Peace of the Action" mobster movies.
MANN: They are no better that [sic] some of the worst oppressive regimes in the world.
The KKK, the Mafia, and North Korea all kill people. Black Lives Matter is advocating against brutality and murder. Mann declared there'd be "no pins, no [tip] jars, no discussion of BLM in my store" and that his employees would "need to show appreciation and gratitude for my capitulation that you achieved." That sentence, while not entirely English, sounds more mobbed up than Black Lives Matter.
The good people at Mr. Pickles corporate shut down Mann's franchise and stated on Instagram that if the location reopens, it would be under new ownership that upholds the company's “corporate standards." That's how mainstream Black Lives Matter is now. Corporate America backs us for once and not the deranged racist. Few sensible people want to side with the racist anymore, which is going to surprise the hell out of Donald Trump in November.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).