During a recent discussion, President Barack Hussein Obama acknowledged the Black Lives Matter movement for its effectiveness “…in bring(ing) attention to problems.”
Of course, President Obama was referring to the voluminous publicity that Black Lives Matter activists have received for their public criticism of law enforcement agencies that have failed to hold their officers responsible for the murder of innumerable Black Males in American streets. The President is absolutely correct, the Black Lives Matter movement has done a phenomenal job in ensuring that no one in this nation becomes desensitized to the aforementioned lethal violence.
As is his usual pattern, while acknowledging Black Lives Matter activists, President Obama touched upon an ancillary, yet particularly significant, issue now confronting the above group. Obama publicly mused to Black Lives Matter activists, “Once you’ve highlighted an issue and brought it to people’s attention … then you can’t just keep on yelling at them. And you can’t refuse to meet…”
There is little doubt that President Obama’s statement was aimed at Aislinn Pulley, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Chicago Chapter, who previously refused to participate in a dialogue at the White House on February 18th regarding issues that ran the gamut from criminal justice reform to policing. Pulley declined the invitation via an essay penned for TruthOut that partially read as follows:
“I could not, with any integrity, participate in such a sham that would only serve to legitimize the false narrative that the government is working to end police brutality and the institutional racism that fuels it.”
I find President Obama to be correct in surmising that “The value of social movements and activism is to get you at the table, get you in the room, and then to start trying to figure out how is this problem going to be solved. You, then, have a responsibility to prepare an agenda that is achievable, that can institutionalize the changes you seek.”
One of the most difficult things facing those historically classified as “the oppressed” is a simple question of are they addicted to the struggle and therefore incapable of conceiving any form of activism beyond raging against the ruling class regarding politico economic injustice and inequities. Although rarely acknowledged, there are many around us who have adopted ‘the struggle’ as if it were an abused orphan child. These new parents are naturally doing what all doting parents do, they are defending their child against all critics.
Unfortunately for the movement, it appears as if many of today’s activists, although well-meaning and driven, have failed to look beyond adrenaline-filled protests and consider realistic solutions to the problems that initially birthed their angst.
Today’s activists need to realize that the ultimate purpose for public protest activities and boycotts is not to cause a disruption to the daily operations of those entities that have offended, harmed, or damaged the downtrodden; rather, the alluded to public unrest should be aimed at getting a place at the table where meaningful discussions are not only occurring, but also hold the potential to bring about meaningful policy changes. Put simply, protests without an end goal that goes well beyond “taking it to the streets” are not only fruitless, but also an asinine waste of time and limited resources.
There is a time for public protest, as well as a time for coming to the table to talk; I pray that the young activists of the Black Lives Matter Movement do not fail to RSVP that hard-earned invite before it expires or forget to arrive at the party with a logical plan in hand.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.