Black Lives Matter – Again
I have no idea why this is a controversial issue among Humanists. But it apparently is.
The summer 2015 issue of The Humanist Magazine was on whether black lives matter to Humanists. http://thehumanist.com/ – The conclusion of the magazine was yes, of course they do. For me also the answer is yes of course. If Humanism is silent on the main civil rights issue of our time, then it has no claim to ethics at all.
Unfortunately, some “humanists” think Humanism is only about not being religious and that we should restrict ourselves to that topic. I disagree. If you are only interested in being an atheist, then you are an atheist, not a Humanist. Humanism is about the applied ethics of compassion! Ours is not a religious ethic, but it is a compassionate ethic and that is what defines us a Humanists! Failure to act on our compassion is a failure of our ethics. Humanism is about human agency. It’s about doing something to fix the problems of the world and to make the world better, for all humans and not just for a subset of them.
Let me be blunt about this. If you think our biggest problem is that the words “under god” are in our pledge but that the government killing of hundreds of unarmed citizens who are not even suspected of committing crimes isn’t something we should concern ourselves with, then you should stop using the label “humanist” to describe yourself because you clearly aren’t concerned about humans, you are only concerned about yourself.
For the rest of us, who actually are able to extend our concern beyond ourselves, the killing of unarmed blacks by police across America demands our attention as Humanists and people of compassion. We must make it stop. But how? Well, the problems of race intersect with economics. We can’t just address policing. Policing is tied to how we fund our cities and the fact that prisons are run for profit, and whether we give loans and jobs to certain people and educational opportunities and support and parks.
Here is a great primer on the topic by Lacy Green: The facts of systemic racism – with Lacy Green – https://www.facebook.com/iseeitall/videos/10153052369309755/?pnref=story
The main areas that need to be addressed are:
- Housing and economic security, banking discrimination
- Work discrimination
- Policing/Fleecing policies
- Private for profit prisons.
If we tackle just one of these issues, the problem will remain. We have to tackle all of them because they are all inter-related. This is why the Black Lives Matters movement has been targeting democratic candidates. (see: http://www.vox.com/2015/8/11/9127653/bernie-sanders-black-lives-matter)
As Black Lives Matters activists are quick to point out, being progressive isn’t enough! #BLM issues have to be prioritized by progressives. Everything that is wrong with America intersects with the systemic racism that plagues us.
If you are concerned about education, you have to be concerned about race. If you are concerned about out of control spending, you have to be concerned about race. If you are concerned about the Supreme Court and your rights as a woman, you also need to be concerned about racism. Our racism problem is structural. It’s systemic. It’s the cancer eating away at our society.
Fixing those structural problems fixes most of the other problems we white progressives have. They aren’t separate issues. They aren’t black problems. They are the same damned problem! Diversity wears many faces: economic, ethnic, religious, gender, age, skin color and more. The institutionalized segregation of Americans into different groups with different rights is what is wrong with America. There is no us vs. them. There is only us. And to make society better, we need all of us and we need to stop segregating our problems as if our problems are more important than others.
Our politics needs to be fixed. And we can’t fix it if we only fix some of the problems. Ignoring huge problems because you aren’t personally being harmed by them is incredibly short sighted and not very humanistic.
The progressive revolution that is brewing must include all disenfranchised groups and not just those too privileged to realize they are privileged. Black Lives Matter! Transexual Lives Matter! LGBT Lives Matter. Women’s Lives Matter! Poor People’s Lives Matter! Do you get it now?