Thursday, September 17, 2015

Black Lives Matter.

I drove my daughter to school today, which I usually don't do. (She drives herself, but we're leaving this afternoon for a quick trip to see Philadelphia-area colleges.) (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore. But I digress.) On the way there we discussed Ahmed Mohammed, the fourteen-year-old who was arrested and handcuffed because he brought a clock he'd made himself to school. He thought his teacher would be impressed. She though he'd brought in a bomb.

I asked my daughter, "Do you think they'd have arrested a white boy for the same thing? Or a white girl?" My daughter said, "Of course they wouldn't have arrested a white kid! They looked at a Muslim and saw terrorist! It's what's bleeping wrong with this bleeping country!" (She didn't say "bleeping." In my house we are not offended by cuss words. Some of you may be.)

I said, "Everybody in this country needs to go to Egypt." My daughter said, "Well, maybe not now..." which is true (it's still a titch unsettled there) but honestly, we all need to go where we are the minority. The racial minority, the religious minority, the cultural minority. The only white folks around. Because then maybe we'd get it, and maybe we'd stop the privileged snotty white response that yes, really does make us sound racist. Somebody says or posts Black Lives Matter, and we're all like, All Lives Matter or White Lives Matter Too. We're making Jesus, who was not a white man and in fact probably looked a lot like an older version of Ahmed Mohammed, bang his head against the wall.

Black Lives Matter is a slogan to attract attention to the fact that black people are routinely treated far worse than white people in this country. That's all it is. When a black person says Black Lives Matter, he or she is not saying White Lives Don't Matter. He or she is saying Black Lives Matter Too. Black Lives Matter Just As Much As The Rest of You.

When I attended Smith, a women's college, a man once asked me how I could be in favor of all-women schools but not all-men schools. (This was back in the day, right after the shift of the Ivies and schools like Notre Dame from all-male to coed.) I told him, "In the same way that I can support an all-black school, but not an all-white one."

Muslim kids matter. Muslim grownups matter. Black Lives Matter. That's all.