On race and riot: Black Lives Matter

by Lynne Robinson
Posted 6/17/20

“The United States was founded on the murder, dislocation and genocide of the indigenous people of this land. These violent colonizers then became internationally wealthy on the abduction, enslavement, lynching and torture of African people. For the last 400 years, the U.S. has continued to imprison, oppress, abuse and murder black and brown people daily.

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On race and riot: Black Lives Matter

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“The United States was founded on the murder, dislocation and genocide of the indigenous people of this land. These violent colonizers then became internationally wealthy on the abduction, enslavement, lynching and torture of African people. For the last 400 years, the U.S. has continued to imprison, oppress, abuse and murder black and brown people daily. The mechanism of white supremacy has supported this corrupt and bloody system and continues to destroy communities and families in more and more sophisticated ways. The murder of George Floyd, an innocent black father, and Breonna Taylor, a young black essential worker, by police, alongside the murder of Ahmaud Aubrey, an innocent jogger, by white supremacists, marks the beginning of a long-suppressed global revolution to end the reign of terror against black lives. I stand with my black community, my family and my nation as we fight for massive anti-racist reform, defunding of the police, reinvestment into communities of color and the end to the racist policies and systems that support the continued terrorism of black and brown communities. Black Lives Matter.”

Artist and activist Nikesha Breeze

To the above (unedited) statement by Breeze, I might add that the conquistadors were financed by stolen money from wealthy Moors and Jews who left Spain in droves after the Edict of Expulsion was issued, just months before Columbus sailed.

Jewish converts to Catholicism were continuously persecuted, tortured and burned until the Inquisition finally came to an end in the 1800s. Jews who refused baptism took refuge in Moorish lands from North Africa to Turkey, as well as Italy and Greece, where they lived peacefully, until the Nazis decimated their numbers with genocide, forcing survivors to become refugees once more.

The roots of racism are deeply entrenched in Western civilization; for some of us, persecution and prejudice are a fact of life. For black people, it’s a given; nowhere is safe.

As protests against racist police brutality continue to rage across the United States and spread around the globe, the rallying cry of "Black Lives Matter" echoes in their wake. Last weekend I was made to understand why it’s important to recognize what Black Lives Matter really means — as well as why the phrase "All Lives Matter" is problematic.

After my letter in last week’s Tempo that encouraged the protests while also sharing my personal story of activism, I found myself instead in front of a firing line of angry readers, ironically all white.

As a lifelong advocate for civil rights, I was a bit nonplussed, to say the least. My actions normally draw ire from racists, not fellow civil rights activists.

My mistake it seems, was being inclusive, as in noting that all life matters. As a Jew of mixed heritage, I have always looked for common ground between people, for the things that we share, rather than those we fear, despite my own inherited blood memory.

Although I was in no way attempting to contradict or undermine the BLM Movement – I did not use the “All Lives Matter” slogan – I was quickly informed that I was nevertheless taking focus away from those who need it. Saying that all life is equal allegedly redirects the attention away from black lives, who are the ones in imminent danger.

Black Lives Matter, while not a new movement, carries a pretty straightforward message, central to the nationwide protests happening right now. BLM speaks out against the police brutality and systemic racism that caused the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as thousands of ongoing violent acts perpetrated against black people, ad infinitum.

I’m down with all of that. Point taken. #blacklivesmatter.

I was also called out on my use of red, yellow and white, along with brown and black, as I alluded to a box of paints, in describing the "broad brushstrokes of color" in interracial relations that are creating a new, woke, rainbow generation. I apologize for taking poetic license.

As I stand in solidarity with the BLM movement as it marches on to the November polls, I will continue to stand up for the rights of all oppressed people, no matter their skin color, race or creed.

This week in Tempo, we focus on the origins of racism in America, with the genocide and ongoing oppression of Native Americans.

Lynne Robinson

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