I woke up the other morning to a news report stating that Black Lives Matter planned to host a demonstration at the Mall of America. There was talk about an injunction or a restraining order that delved into whether the mall was public or private property and how BLM had the right to advertise for the protest on social media.
As a supporter of BLM's message generally, I was a bit perplexed. If you want people to pay attention to your message, or better yet, join your cause, clogging up the mall during the height of Christmas shopping season did not seem like the right way to go.
Playing devil's advocate to myself at 6am I considered that perhaps this was the perfect place and time. Protesting at a courthouse or a police station is symbolic, but the real power in this country lies within the consuming masses. If the looming (at one point) government shutdown had threatened to literally close every mall and Best Buy and Wal Mart in the country from December 15-December 25, it would have never been on the table.
Still, I could not convince myself. It seemed to be missing the point, a point I've seen all my life, and one brought to light on Twitter discussing the Making a Muderer Nextflix series. The point is that while the life of black people in America is not directly comparable to that of lower class white people in America, there are parallels.
It occurs to me that there should be a natural alliance between many lower class whites, Hispanic immigrants, and lower class blacks. From access to health care to safety net programs to educational opportunities to wealth inequality to criminal justice reform.
What does this have to do with a BLM protest in Minnesota? I'm not really sure. How do you challenge the status quo without serious disruption?
All I know is what I see around me: single moms living in mobile home parks zoned out of middle class neighborhoods receiving financial assistance because their high school drop-out boyfriend is in jail for two years for an ounce of pot.
And so many of these homes have confederate flags flying from the front steps. Because somebody has to be at fault, so it must be the Mexican that took their job or the crackheads in the projects.
Again, and I say this emphatically, the plight of these people pale in comparison to how black people have been and continue to be treated in this country. I just find myself befuddled at the lack of a natural alliance between these groups and would like to bridge that gap. And how can we get there without alienating each other?