Letter to the editor: A response to ‘‘Black Lives Matter’–But does the movement?’

To the editor:

A piece was published in the March 31 issue of The Bucknellian titled “‘Black Lives Matter’–But does the movement?” The piece was written by Robert Naylor ’17, and warrants response.

You start with a trigger warning, I respond with empathy and respect. We both share the privilege of being white, and I speak as an ally to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement with the acknowledgement that I don’t carry the burden of institutional racism every day.

I have identified two different theses in your article: 1) The Black Lives Matter movement has failed because it has done damage to national infrastructure and because it is funded by white elites, and 2) Black America will benefit from the Trump administration.

First Point:

First, you’ve tried to equate the BLM movement to President Donald Trump and Black America. The BLM movement originated during the Obama administration and is not a partisan movement, but a movement designed to address institutionalized racism (especially within the police force) in America.

We can hopefully all agree that black lives do matter, and I argue that the BLM movement is vital as it is striving for justice and equality across racial lines. Though the movement did result in the damage of property, and is certainly not free from critique, the message has not changed because of the destruction of property, and the idea that this invalidates a movement is dangerous. As racial tensions rise in the United States, BLM has brought the importance of black lives into conversation in a way that was not done before. As many conservatives cite patriotism, loyalty, purity, and morality as their values, one could argue that the BLM movement establishes some of these typically conservative values as central.

At the end of your article, you cite the funding of the BLM movement as cause for suspicion and question. It’s hypocritical to denounce BLM because of its funding but then to accept the Trump administration’s finances (See NYtimes.com), as you do not address Trump’s funding, I digress.

Please clarify the connection between BLM and Trump’s administrative policies.

Second Point:

You argue that the economic promises of Trump will benefit all Americans, and especially black Americans (any policy that helps black Americans will help white Americans more, as that is how social justice works, vice versa not true). You establish talking points as evidence of black oppression; I challenge the presentation of these and how they will be impacted by the current administration’s policies.

  1. If this is true, how is this a result of the race to incarcerate and Ghettoside? What is the source? Has this statistic been affected by Trump’s America? Is there a current plan to address racial injustice? (Suggestion: movie “Thirteenth”)
  2. How is the ordering of black communities relevant to Trump’s administrative policies? What does this mean in relation to the BLM movement and ending institutionalized racism? As a conservative who I take to be for limited government, how does championing a nuclear family, which is reinforced and privileged by governmental structures and policies, serve a conservative agenda?
  3. You state that Democrats and Democratic policies have failed black communities in “inner cities” because the practices of the “inner city” mimic the practices of slavery, citing the housing system, the breakdown of family structure, the presence of violence, the dependence on others for food, a lack of healthcare, and a sense of nihilism. I think we agree here. Black lives are still affected by the actions of past white America.

Institutionalized racism and the effects mentioned above, however, are not products of the Obama administration; these are effects of our history and are the symptoms, not the causes, of black oppression.

You argue that Trump’s housing and urban development program will alleviate these symptoms (I disagree) but more importantly, how will his administration, his policies, his rhetoric, and his beliefs address the causes.

First, not all black people live in the inner cities. Second, these symptoms are a product of our American culture. We can create jobs, and black people will still be discriminated against in the hiring process. We can create housing programs, yet they will still result in segregation because we live in a society based on white privilege.

You are addressing this exclusively on party lines, distracting us from the actual causes of all of these problems: institutionalized racism, classism, sexism, and an economic capitalist system that privileges white, male, cis-gender, heterosexual individuals. The reality is that white America— both liberals and conservatives—has failed black America.

What is the current administration doing to address and end systemic and institutionalized racism?

Tegan Stanbach ’17

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