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Speak Right On

A book is usually a one-sided affair: only the author reveals her thoughts and feelings. The airing of readers’ reactions typically is left to book groups. But not now, not here.

With this blog I want to hear what you have to say. Though I will use Speak Right On as a springboard and reference point for my blog entries, you don’t need to read my book to join the conversation.

Just speak right on, from the heart.

“He who does his best for his own time, lives for all times.”

African proverb

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Speaking out . . . on a limb

I decided to make a change in this blog: in 2016 I want to submit my comments on other sites, and then I'll report back here on the conversations I engage in.

I wrote my initial comment this morning on an article by Clare Foran in The Atlantic that reviewed the Black Lives Matter movement in 2015. And I'm feeling vulnerable. You see, I used my own picture and my own name. Have I just painted a target on my back? There's a lot of vitriol out there.

Most commenters on sites that I've visited do not use their picture or their real name, and I think that's partly because many commenters are sarcastic, rude, and/or disrespectful. But it's also likely that many don't use their real name and picture because, well, it's uncomfortably personal.

"We're at a breaking point in this country right now," Yates said. [Ashley Yates, a Black Lives Matter activist who helped plan and carry out a protest at Netroots Nation, a conference where Sanders and O'Malley were slated to speak in July.] "We got to this moment with people sacrificing and putting their lives on the line and we have to support each other through that. It sounds easy to remember, but sometimes it's hard."

I want to be part of that kind of support. And whaddya know? I got a couple of civil replies from a writer who doesn't use her/his real name or picture: please see the thread of exchanges pasted below.

I suspect that "Deus ex iguana" is not fond of "leftists" (I can't be sure, but I think her/his final comment was sarcastic), but is a proponent of free speech. And it's this last point—free speech—that decided me on using my real name and picture. Not only do I think each of us should speak up and be counted, I think it helps things even more when we consent to be accountable for our words.

So, after just one experiment, I'm feeling optimistic about this new change in my posts. I hope by using this new blog style that some readers may feel emboldened to inch out on their own limbs, one step at a time, and move closer to the tangled branches of public discourse. Feel free to use these posts as a model for your own conversations if you think it might help.

Mary Neighbour • an hour ago
"There's an absurd quality to the idea of people telling you to be calm and controlled in your pain." Does anyone deny that there is immense pain fueling the BLM movement? Sure, it's easier to ignore or reject or denigrate someone else's pain, but haven't you been helped at some time in your life with a pain that you couldn't resolve alone?

Deus ex iguana • an hour ago
Yes, I do deny it. The Missouri student who went on a hunger strike was the member of an extremely wealthy family. Virtually all of the incidents of racism at Missouri were fabricated and even if they had been real, they were hardly painful. A "poop swastika" on a bathroom stall door (seen by no one) is offensive to Jews, if anyone. It was certainly a prank left by some idiot. This is the pain point? Who in their right mind would take that seriously?

Mary Neighbour  • 16 minutes ago
I'll refer in reply to another article today, in the Chicago Tribune, "Dunbar slayings prompt a rethinking of Black Lives Matter," by William Lee. Among other things, he writes about a high school where 3 students were killed this past year, and he asks what are the odds of 3 classmates being murdered within days of each other. He researched the odds with the CDC: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 2010 and 2012, on an annual basis only one in every 40,000 white Americans was a homicide victim, while the number was one in 5,000 for African-Americans." If that's not a painful reality, I don't know what is. If I grew up knowing and feeling this reality, I'd feel pain, fear, anxiety--and yes--anger.

Deus ex iguana • 4 minutes ago
I think we are in agreement. I fully support any movement, BLM or whatever, that wants to stop the senseless murder going on in the black community. I will join the movement myself.

Will Yum • 34 minutes ago
Wow Mary,So you think BLM is dealing with criminal violence in the black community? If so, please give links.

Mary Neighbour • 8 minutes ago
I agree with the author: "The challenge, for the movement, is to stem the tide of violence against black men and women while working to fix what activists believe is a fragmented and broken society. It's an ambition that won't be easily achieved. But as the movement evolves and expands, it has forced change." 

This whole article is a review of the BLM's growth and impact, with prescriptions for its ongoing growth. BLM is not centrally organized; as they become more organized, new priorities--like addressing all violence in black communities--will likely be added. I think your argument, Will, is a mirror image of the debate over black lives matter vs. all lives matter. BLM has a legitimate focus. It's narrow for a legitimate reason, and it's to be expected that it will become more broad as the movement expands.

Will Yum • 7 minutes ago
I hope you are right. I have seen no evidence of any issues outside of police violence against people of color.

My learning curve begins
Not so silent night

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Monday, 21 June 2021