Black lives matter?
Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. "Black lives matter" can mean at least two very different things:
(A) A particular person who identifies as black might say: "My life matters. Just because my skin is a different color than white people's, I demand to be treated with the same respect as the highest white persons such as Noam Chomsky and Jeff Bezos. Repeat: My individual, unique life which I am living each new day matters. I expect and demand equal respect to anybody else, irrespective of secondary characteristics. I do not want to be anybody's step-and-fetch-it or "food for powder".
(B) "Black lives matter" can also mean that a political movement to improve the conditions of black people as a group that has historically and today still continues to be discriminated against, needs foot soldiers to fight for the movement's agenda. These persons could potentially get imprisoned, beaten by police and even killed in furtherance of the group agenda. If you are a person who identifies as black, in this second sense you matter as head-count and potential bodycount, just like a bee in a hive (above).
I think the phrase "Black lives matter" has been used in both the above senses. If I had negro ancestry and bodily features, no way would I want to matter in sense #B, who matter no more as individual persons than young white males mattered in 1968 to the U.S. Army ("Uncle Sam wants YOU!" to go sweat and maybe get maimed and/or die in 'Nam!). You, my reader? firstname.lastname@example.org
"A liberal is a man too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel." (Robert Frost, cited by Barak Obama)
Does "Black lives matter" mean (A) that the lives of persons of certain African ancestries matter equally as much as lives of persons of Caucasian or Asian or any other ancestries? Or does it mean (B) that persons of certain African ancestries demand preferential privileges for their lives, to be paid for by asymmetrical impositions on the lives of others
An "activist" told me that obviously it's option #A, but if it is obvious then why would I be asking the question? We are living in contentious times. It is important to realize that if you think you are right, your enemy probably thinks he (she, other) is right, too. Do you gain the good-will help of others by threatening them? Or by respectfully motivating them to see that by furthering your interests they will also be furthering their own?
One root of the problem, of course, is that a human being can have a self, unlike, for instance, a bee (above). Call it "self-ish", or even selfish. Have you ever heard of a bee questioning whether it should sacrifice itself and die to the hive? A human being, however, can about his (her, other) self: "Cogito ergo sum. Hell, no, I won't go!" If helping you does not help me, or, even worse: if helping you threatens to harm me, I would be irrationally self-destructive (aka: a fool) to do so. (How inconvenient for the hive and, functionally, even if not cognitively, for all the bees that do not have selfs.)
Persons and their properties
"I am who am." (Exodus 3:14; cf: "Cogito ergo sum" (René Descartes))
A person is a perspective on all there is or was or can be: a judge of the world. All properties, such as race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation and so forth are intramundane objectivities: things in the world. If a person discovers they are classified as "black" and treated certain ways in life because of that attribution and asks themself: "What can I do with or about this attribution?", that is different from ideating: "I am a black person", i.e.: I am a thing in the world that gets processed according to the canon of social treatment of "black people". A black man (woman, other) is a "what". A person reflecting on what kind of body they are stuck with (or if they are very lucky: blessed with) is a "who".
It makes a difference. If a person is a black person "what", they will see the problem as getting society to treat blalck whats differently, and this may entail the person using their own body as an instrument to get this done and if dying is part of the price that black whats need to pay for other black whats to get a better life, that's just part of the plan (whose plan?).
I A person who reflects they have the black attribute will not see their death as just an object in the[ir] world changing its biological state, but as likely the end of their world. That's a lot scarier and more important than just losing a thing [in the world...], yes? They may still decide they have to do it, but not blithely like disposing of a what[ever]. Consider Serena Williams (above right): Is she a what or a who? Does she serve society like a worker on a tennis ball production line at maybe $15 USD per hour, or does she serve her self by serving tennis balls to get society to serve her to the tune of $225,000,000 USD?
Are you a "what" or are you a "who"? Are you an object or are you a subject? Both those words have double meanings: "Object" secondarily means to be the target of somebody's volitional act. "Subject" secondarily means a field of study. I definitely am a target of some other people's volitional acts, as I was when my school teaches graded me like the USDA grades a slab of meat: no way would they have treated each other or, a fortiori, their Headmaster (CEO) that way, would they? And I am definitely an infinite field to study. What or who are you, my reader? email@example.com
True story or partly a classic cartoon. Some years ago, there was a cute little girl whose father owned a Donut business: Little Debbie Donuts. Her father named her: "Debbie", and, since she was so cute, her picture appeared on all his packages of donuts. She was the poster child: a symbol of the donut business.
In adult life (and this is the part I am not sure is fact...), Debbie protested against just being an advertisement:
"First of all, I'm Debbie the person!"
Do you, my reader, feel that you, too, are, first of all, a unique person who wants to exist as an individual person, not just an instance of something (such as a donut symbol or a "black life")?
Facts about "race" people don't like to admit
Facts about "race" people don't like to admit:
- People like their own kind. A country that is culturally homogeneous such as Japan has much less social conflict than where you have different "tribes", such as The United States of America. If a country is going to be multicultural, everybody needs to assimilate (the "melting pot"). Moral of this story: If you want to be proud of your ancestry, don't flaunt it in public.
- Racial stereotypes are precisely that: When a member of one tribe gets to know a member of a different tribe as an individual, often they will end up with: "I hate XYZs: get rid of them all! -- but Buddy Boy (Girl, Other) over here, well he (she, other) is an exception, you know, he's different." An exception to what? An exception to just being a member of the group. Adolf Hitler卐 instructed the SS to give his personal jewish✡ physician safe passage out of Germany. Moral of this story: Some individual persons are good and some are bad; groups of people are always bad (but people ideate that their pet group is good, of course). ~ To a large extent, "racial" prejudice is about groups and about people who present as groupies (typo: stereotypical group members); if you want to minimize racial prejudices against yourself, be a self, don't come across as just an instantiation of the group.
- You don't have to want to go to bed with people for them to have equal civil rights, equal educational opportunities, equal protection under the law, equal etcetera and so forth. Nobody should tell anybody else what kinds of people they should "like", just that they need to respect eveybody as peer citizens in civil society whether they like them or not. Moral of this story: Black need not not be beautiful for me (or white for you...).
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
If a person mouths off that their rights as a black person (or as a Venusian or whatever) are being violated, my response will be to ask what does that have to do with me? "You" could just as well be a fire-hydrant, but if you aim to get "yours" at my expense, that's a threat. Of course, if you have bigger muscles than me, or a gun, you can (A) rob, (B) injure, (C) maim, or (D) kill, or (E) otherwise harm me.
If on the other hand, a person protests that their ability to live creatively as a self-accountable individual person is being impacted, then I am interested because I am trying to live a creatively self-accountable life, too, becuse I might be next, and, furthermore, I have empathy because I've had it happen to me already myseff, so I know what it's like.
Don't try to tear me down, so that I have to try to protect myself against you; try to rise up, and maybe I can help you. Keep respectful distance. Don't share your infectious germs with me. Don't try to mess with my head, which is full of toxic introjects from my chidrearing already. Suggest how we can collaborate for our several and joint benefits. We don't even have to like each other to join forces to fight against a common enemy.
Another way to put this: Stand up for the universal dignity and value of each unique individuated person, which is uniersalizing, not try to advance the parochial interests of a group (clique, sect, tribe, nation, etc.), which is polarizing, divisive.
The obvious: Universality versus imperialism
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works...." (Matt 5:16)
The Wokies, and other haters of Western civilization, confuse two things that are very different, but it's understanable why. Universalism is not imperialism. Imperialism is: I have more power than you so I will make you worship my God because my God is the one and only true God and I can shove my religion down your throat. But the less pwerful say: No, Our God is the only true God and you are just bullying us. The conquistadores and other colonialists were this kind of people who, rightly, the Wokies et alobject to because they are just trying to tell them what to do.
But universalism is different: It would say: We had a God, and we have started to think about that, not just blindly believe it. You have a God, and aren't you just believing in your God like we used to believe in our God. Our God told us He was the one and only God, just like yours does. but tthe two also say they are different, so they can't both beh right, can they? Let us study this whole thing about God and see what's up, because we cannot all be right and maybe all of us are wrong. We're all in this together.
Now, of course, it is natural for the Wokies and other haters of Western civilization to be up in arms abou this because it, like the imperialists, is threatening their parochial ideology The two, prima facie, look the same: You want to destroy our form of life! But it's threatening it in a very different way: not to replace it with a different ideology but to get beyond anybody being limited by any ideology. Universalism should only be offered to people, as a precious gift. If they are adamant in wanting to stay shrouded in their small, closed parochiality, their happenstance beliefs ad custome, and they do not have the power to cause the universalists any trouble, then respect their right to choose (even though it is foolish from a rational point of view); let them alone to stagnate in their myopic form of life (but offer santuary to any who wish to leave). Only, what Jurgen Habermas describes as "the unforced force of the better argument" is appropriate to deploy vis-à-vis creatures presumed to at least potentially be or be able to become rational beings.
However: if they are like today's Islamists and Wokies, who threaten the form of life of universalists, then they obviously we need to protect ourselves and our values against the threat they pose to destroy us and them. Intolerant people cannot be tolerated because they will destroy the tolerance, i.e., the persons who would be tolerant. To adduce a metaphor, There is no need to bomb them back into the Stone Age because they are already there; the problem is to keep them from hurting us if they don't want to get up and out of it, which, before Western Imperialism, not all of them intended to do.
Furthermore, the problem is not just to rebel against any or even all groups, although I personally like the spirit of the idea because I didn't like what my group of origin did to me. One must also overcome constellating oneself as a group of one of which one considers oneself to be part/ whole. But you cannot get outside everything, like the people who ran Mr. Truman's world in the movie "The Truman Show": wherever you are you are in the midst of things and have to make a choice, where not making a choice is one of the options, which thought is more grist for the mill....