The Blog. I’ve never used the blog before. You also don’t come to a bicycle wheel builder for blogs, musings, or hot takes. But you found this page, so you got ’em.
However, it’s a unique time in America. Hell, it’s a unique time in the world. But zooming in to America, it’s a particularly unique time. But in ways, it also feels somewhat repetitive. The experience of people of color in America is not a linear path towards progress. It is a continual struggle, filled with backslides throughout time. This moment, this time, feels like the physical widespread manifestation of one of these backslides – made too blatant, too bold, and too obvious, for all but the most oblivious to miss.
The slave went free; stood for a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.
W.E.B. DuBois wrote this in 1935 a work called Black Reconstruction In America: 1860-1880. It feels like it could have been written in almost any time in America a short period after some big moment that was supposed to change everything.
The simplest and easiest thing you can do is educate yourself. Read.
I would implore you to read about Reconstruction – more specifically, read about the failings of Reconstruction. And really, ” the failings of Reconstruction” makes it sound much more passive than it was – read about how a subset of the population caused Reconstruction to fail, and how the rest of the population allowed it to happen.
Read about the development of the American police system. Read about how the “justice” system was designed. Read about how specific crimes that disproportionately affected people of color were classified as felonies, whereas similar crimes that disproportionately were committed by white people were classified as misdemeanors. Read about the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that abolishes slavery – except in the case of punishment for a crime. Read about how the freshly emancipated population was in large part re-enslaved and sold off to their former owners through a series of ludicrous laws designed to re-enslave these individuals back onto the very plantations from which many had just been freed. Read about the convict leasing system that is still in operation to this day – right now. Read about all of this in a book called Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.
Read about the history of politics in the American South. How for over 150 years one faction of the American political landscape (hint: 150 years ago its leadership was made up of the landed, plantation elite) has worked incredibly hard to push race as a dividing line in politics rather than income and economics, in order to prevent radical economic upheaval and reapportionment that would come from a politics with an electoral dived not by race, but by economic strata. Read about how that same faction of the American political landscape has set about on a radical dismantling of the American education system, that’s rearing its head in everything from lack of basic understanding of science, empathy, community, and history.
The final, most basic thing, is that black rights are human rights. At first glance, it’s understandable how you could come to a position saying “all lives matter” – but you have to think beyond that first instinct and thought. Of course all lives matter – nobody is saying that they don’t. People who want to “save the hawksbill sea turtle” are not out to obliterate all other kinds of turtles – in fact I’d wager that most are rather fond of all turtles. However, what they are saying is that we should save the hawksbill sea turtle because there are specific machinations and systems that have failed the hawksbill sea turtle and made it such that it is more threatened than a box turtle. What the saying “black lives matter” is actually saying is “black lives matter(, too).” The “(, too)” is so clearly misunderstood by a section of the population. The reason you shouldn’t say “all lives matter” is because all lives cannot and do not matter until black lives matter(, too).
In the simplest terms what is happening now is this: some people are protesting the brutal murder of a man, and the systemic brutalization of Black people by police. Another group of people are pushing back and counter-protesting that. It’s pretty simple to see where I’d like to be on that. I am opposed to police brutality in all forms, but especially against the disenfranchised and communities, and support policies and politicians who have platforms that align with this.
Here is an article from Harper’s on the problematic nature of saying “all lives matter.”
Here is a great article in the New Yorker that talks about Reconstruction.
If you really want to read the best response by any business about the current situation, go read what Ben and Jerry’s has to say. They knocked it out of the park.
Now is the time to listen to – and amplify – the voices of the disenfranchised, unheard, and downtrodden portions of our society. To try to listen to the voices crying out against problems that we ourselves can never truly understand. And then make sure you are registered to vote, and vote like hell for policies and people that will strive to make these desperately needed changes.