Guest opinion: What ‘Black Lives Matter’ means
I recently saw a “We Believe” yard sign in our neighborhood and liked the social equity messages on the sign so much that I wanted a sign to display in my own yard. I discovered that the signs available via Amazon or Etsy are quite expensive. I figured that there are probably others in our community who might want a sign as well, and perhaps we could benefit from combining our orders. Long story short, I’m now collecting people’s requests for signs (via webelieveparkcity.wixsite.com/yardsigns) and combining them into bulk orders that I’m placing with a local company. This makes the signs cheaper, keeps us from shipping single signs around the country and supports a local business. I’m not making money on this and I’m not keeping any signs in stock for people to purchase from me. I’m simply collecting people’s requests and ordering signs on their behalf. So far 350 signs have been ordered. These signs seem to have sparked some controversy, which was not the intent; but they have also resulted in dialogue, which is a good thing.
To let people know about this little grassroots effort, I’ve posted this information on the social networking service Nextdoor. However, every single one of my posts, and those of others with similar content, has been removed because they were reported as being “uncivil, unneighborly or offensive” and further described as “discrimination.” There are people who object to the “Black Lives Matter” statement on the “We Believe” signs because they feel it is Marxist. Most people can’t explain off the top of their heads what Marxism really is, but they have a general idea that it’s probably not a good thing. I’m one of those people, and since I do not wish to project anything negative, I decided to educate myself a little on Marxism and how it relates to Black Lives Matter.
Marxism is a complicated concept. According to yourdictionary.com, Marxism is “the theory of Karl Marx which says that society’s classes are the cause of struggle and that society should have no classes” and “a radical, revolutionary political philosophy that aims to capture state power, introduce a dictatorship of the proletariat, and then progress to communism.” One can see why there is a lot of criticism of Marxism.
How does Marxism relate to Black Lives Matter? It is important to note that there is “Black Lives Matter” the organization and “Black lives matter” the movement. The Black Lives Matter organization was founded in 2013 in response to the death of Trayvon Martin. Its co-founder Patrisse Cullors has described herself as a “trained Marxist” and some of the stated beliefs on the organization’s national website are certainly controversial. However, the “Black lives matter” movement is not the same thing as the Black Lives Matter organization. The movement is about recognizing that Black people throughout history have been disadvantaged and that their lives matter as much as the lives of anyone else. Saying “Black lives matter” doesn’t mean that Black lives matter more or that other lives don’t matter, just that Black lives matter also. Similarly, saying “save the sea turtles” doesn’t mean other animals don’t matter, and saying “save the rainforest” doesn’t mean other forests don’t matter.
The statement “Black Lives Matter” on the “We Believe” signs is not an endorsement of the Black Lives Matter organization, but rather the Black lives matter movement in general. The statement is not Marxist. There are those who understand this and proudly display a “We Believe” sign to support the Black lives matter movement and see it as a step in the right direction towards social equity. And there are those who do not. But even if Nextdoor refuses to leave up posts letting people know where they can get a sign should they want one, at least the signs have sparked a conversation.
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