I had a heated online dispute recently with someone I grew up with in South Georgia. He insisted that the Black Lives Matter movement is racist because all lives matter. I couldn’t believe I was having this argument in 2015, but I pointed out to my white, heterosexual, male friend that, while all lives matter, the dominant culture continues to act, in almost every way, as though the lives of people of color matter less:
- Mentally ill black people are 11 times more likely to be killed by police than mentally ill white people.
- Unarmed black people are twice as likely to be killed by the police as unarmed white people.
- Black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be killed by police.
- Although the rate of marijuana use is identical, black Americans are 10 times as likely to be arrested for possession.
Tragically, these statistics could go on and on …
White, rural, and suburban legislators continue to slash funding for public education, knowing that their children will go to private or charter schools. By abandoning public education, they ensure a permanent class of non-union, low-wage workers to pick their cotton, clean their houses, and wash their cars.
Today it is not so much about race as it is about economic class. The poor, and the mentally and physically challenged are being cynically abandoned without hope of improving their lot in life. Economic inequality is rapidly replacing racial inequality as the bigotry of the 21st century. The rich will continue to buy elections, and the media they own will feed us the information they want us to have. They will militarize the police, lest we notice that the game has been rigged against us all and that they have taken the winnings for themselves, leaving us just enough crumbs for our children to survive.
Am I being paranoid, or is white, middle-class America being naïve? I’d like to hear your opinion.
Rev. Michael Piazza