I’ve never lived in an inner city community, I’ve only walked or driven through them. I’m lost on the logic that says the price of birth control is more offensive than the cost of children, or avoiding the “snitch” label is more important than getting drugs out of your community. But the fact is that there is a very different mindset, a reality that promotes different behaviors, including the belief that the only way to be heard is to speak very loudly.
Sparked by the controversial killing of teenager Michael Brown in August 2014, the #blacklivesmatter movement has arisen and grown wings. It is a worthy cause and a timely one. But its boots-on-the-ground proponents have taken an approach that we’ve seen tried and failed so many times in the Caribbean.
In Jamaica, when the population is angry they take to the streets burning tires, shooting and looting, destroying everything in their wake with the intention of making their voices heard. But that behavior has never yielded any positive result that I know of. Just potholes and bad publicity.
Recently we’ve seen activists in the US suggest that folks should “burn the whole place down” in retribution for police brutality. We’ve seen women representing the #blacklivesmatter movement commandeer a political stage screaming into Bernie Sanders’ face to let them speak. Even as a black person concerned about black lives including my own, all I could think was, “how do we expect anyone to take us seriously when this is how we choose to engage?”
It seems to me that both here and at home, the causes that affect our most troubled communities need to be championed by folks with level heads. Folks who don’t resort to shouting attacks where the listener’s only appropriate reaction is to cover his ears and step backwards.
Black lives matter, but we’ll never get that message to be anything other than a hashtag if we don’t engage policymakers on a level they understand. Destroying our own communities and fighting the people who want to help us is probably not the best route to our ideal destination.
Calibe Thompson is the Executive Producer of the “Taste the Islands” cooking series, now airing nationwide on public television stations and Create TV (www.createtv.com for details). Learn more about her at www.calibe.net.