Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Hate is Hate, Bigotry is Bigotry. Right?
I am someone who lived in South Central Los Angeles where I witnessed police brutality first hand. I am also a parent at the school where Philando Castile worked. I had decided to swallow my concerns about Black Lives Matter's "Israel is genocide platform" because the need is so urgent: we must make an end to the institutionalized racism and police bias that has seen Phil Castile and so many other Black men and women murdered.
Then, last night, a parent and teacher told me of the Black Lives Matter rally at the Governor's mansion on that the shocked, horrible day after Phil's death. In an open mike setting, he said, individuals screamed anti-semitism and homophobia, their comments un-addressed by those in charge. I asked for specifics and was told, "things like, 'we got to get rid of those gays, those queers,'" and "those white Jews stole all our businesses." For the last month, this man's white face has been red with grief and twisted with bewilderment. He was a good friend of Philando's, much closer to him than I. He is not Jewish. The rally he attended was not run by our often out of control chapter, but by Nekima Levy-Pound's much more practical group.
This thoughtful man also said, "When you do an open-mike, unfiltered, at an event like this, you commodify grief. It's the one that screams the loudest who is supposedly grieving the most and the one everybody listens to." And when you allow hate speech against gays and Jews to stand unanswered, you encourage bigotry--Flat, plain evil, awful bigotry--and invite it to flourish.
Perhaps it is easier for me to excuse amtisemitism than other kinds of bigotry--this despite the fact that our synagogue was vandalized following that event. Perhaps what freed me was the screamed homophobic invectives. Whatever the case, what he said snapped me to decision. Our local chapters of Black Lives Matter will be hearing from me, both its leadership and those members that I know and care about. I hope they will speak out against both homophobia and antisemitism.
And Black Lives Matter is not the only African-American group working for racial justice. For now--until they, as Philando's friend says,"Get their act together" about Jew-bashing and queer-hating and any other bigotry that anybody spouts, whether it's Trump or BLM, I will be working--passionately--with others to create the change we must make in our country's open bigotry against black lives.