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Perspective: Support BLM Like You Mean It

photographer unknown, in Scherer family collection
Protest in support of accused rapist Willie McGee, who was executed. Attended by Reed Scherer's father in 1951.

“Black Lives Matter” is not just an expression, it is a fundamental truism in any fair society. It's deeply resonant because of the inherent and systemic injustice and violence that remains prevalent, and particularly commonplace in police forces around the country. But racists, in their willful ignorance, just don’t see it. Most racists probably don’t even know that they are racists.

Credit Collection of the Scherer family
W.E.B. Dubois and Marcel Scherer


In 1903 W.E.B DuBois wrote “Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.” 

Investigation and reform of policing has to be across the board, including all administrative and union leadership. Compelled implicit bias training can be worse than ineffectual when there’s eye-rolling involved, and there’s loads of that.

Here’s an extremely modest proposal that surely won’t solve racism, but just might help root out racist elements in law enforcement. How about distributing large "Black Lives Matter" buttons to all cops. Sounds like a stupid gimmick, I know. But those who get it will wear the button with pride; those unhappy about it will have to engage in, shall I say, “further vetting”.

I come from a family deeply rooted in the struggle for racial justice. My grandfather was genuine friends with W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson. In 1960 my father, with a group of white men outraged by the death sentence for Willie McGee chained himself to the Lincoln Memorial. The black men and women on the organizing committee were convinced not to take part in the action, for quite obvious reasons. The police came with bolt cutters, cut the chains and told the white boys to scram. We all know what would have happened to their black friends had they been there too.

So with this background, how is it that I, too, had become complacent; assuming that racist cops were a small minority, despite all the evidence out there? I guess I thought that generational change meant societal progress, but so many decades later how far have we really come? We can’t be satisfied with such incremental progress anymore. Positive cultural shifts are transient unless we vigilantly insist otherwise.

So wear your Black Lives Matter buttons, white people. And mean it.

I’m Reed Schererand that’s my perspective.

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