Samiha: Now for our next question, do you think the Black Lives Matter movement is a matter of politics, and should it be a matter of politics?
Sam: I’ll start this one off. I think that unfortunately, it is. I think it shouldn’t be and no matter where you stand, you should be on board with parts of it. But a lot goes back to what we were talking about before which was if you’re already on the fence about it, then because of your political views mixed with bad media coverage, you’ll come to the wrong conclusion. So many, not all, but so many people on the right just agree with everything the President says without question. When he condemns the movement or when he says he doesn’t believe in it, or when Mike Pence refuses to just say that Black Lives Matter, that’s what supporters will say too. So, unfortunately, it has become political because so many of the people that are against it are only against it because of what political leaders say. Whereas I think most of the people who are for it didn’t decide to be for it because of what a political leader said. They decided to be for it because they care and because they did research. So I think that’s how it became political when it shouldn’t, it should be unifying not dividing.
Samiha: Yes I agree wholeheartedly, it’s really about the type of exposure and how people see things. It takes back to the thing about seeing all sides of the matter. If someone just hears out a political leader and goes along with whatever they say without making further research, it bodes for a flawed perception. Someone could just turn on the news and hear someone influential say that they aren’t for Black Lives Matter and just go on agreeing with them even though they haven’t had any other exposure to the movement. Another thing is that literally anything can be made political. People have made things like masks and climate change, but those things are supposed to just be no-brainers. The same thing can be said about a movement that fights for basic human rights.
Maia: I think it’s interesting how early we turned things into politics before we even make political changes to accompany the movement. With the Black Lives Matter movement, we want a systemic change. We want to end racial injustice and systemic racism. I feel like bringing politics into it is something we need to discuss and it is something that will inevitably happen if we’re going to end up making these changes that we want. But making it a discussion of, what Sam was saying, a political “If you’re in this party, you support this,” making it a Democratic or Republican choice, unfortunately. Even though there are lots of Republicans that I know are for Black Lives Matter, it’s an inevitable thing that just happened. But I think it is interesting how early we brought politics into it even though we were;t even making political changes at first and it was just simply a question of human rights. I think it’s based on a human’s need to be competitive and needing to be on a side even when it’s not needed.
Lydia: With what we were saying earlier, so if the people who just didn’t like the riots or who maybe are racist or who don’t care for change saw a political leader denounce the movement, they would just jump on board. It keeps them from keeping it as a matter of human rights and instead they see it as a matter of politics.
Sam: I also think so much of politics and any issue is so much left versus right, that you either believe it or you don’t. But most things shouldn’t be that way. Just because you stand on a certain side for an issue doesn’t mean you should or have to stand on that same side for every issue. Stuff like Black Lives Matter, climate change, masks, vaccines, and the Coronavirus shouldn’t be political. Those should be things we all can agree on.
Samiha: To propose another question, how can you be a Black Lives Matter activist if you aren’t black?
Sam: I think you can talk to your friends about it, you can sign petitions, you can email and call your representatives, and if you’re old enough, you can vote. But most importantly you can read, and educate yourself on the topic and read from people who have had those experiences and know more than you. You can read books, articles, look at statistics, so you can really understand and so you are better prepared to convince other people because that’s the best you can do. You also need to make sure to not be a white savior and to not talk over black voices when they try to share their stories. You need to fight for them instead of them.
Maia: I really agree, especially the fight for them instead of them. While I was at the protest in Portland, I was one of the only white people there. There were about five white people in a group of five hundred. It was a really different environment than the Black Lives Matter protests in the past. So I started proposing the question, how can I be an advocate for Black Lives Matter as a white person? One of the main things they would say is “Don’t take over.” The whole point of this movement is to give black people the voice, and if white people ask for that very voice, it’s contradictory. But there’s always the question, if a sea of white people fighting for Black Lives Matter is as powerful as a sea of black people doing the same, and is it better if there’s a mixed group? How does the tone change?
Samiha: I do think it’s different. Both are important. When a white person fights for Black Lives Matter, it’s beautiful because they’re pushing aside past differences and trying to make change happen after learning about everything themselves. But when a black person fights for Black Lives Matter, it’s more powerful because you get the perspective of someone who’s had first-hand experiences. However I think a mixture would be ideal, the uniting of the races who want the same thing, people standing alongside their black neighbors and peers, and aiding in how far one’s voice can go would be the most powerful.
Lydia: Yeah, I think that if we all come together to support this, it will make such a huge difference because it hasn’t happened a lot in the past. Like I said earlier, we all need to be on the same page if we want systemic change.
Maia: Being a body in a group of voices, just being there to support and not taking over is good. So instead of leading a protest, you’re actively supporting whoever is leading. Followers are as important as their leaders. So if you’re a white person and you’re somebody that follows the movement closely and educates yourself, you’re going to be adding to everything no matter what. You don’t have to be a leader of the movement to add something in order to make the changes that you want to see. So it’s important to not just agree with it but to show that you are indeed a part of it. I know a lot of people don’t talk about their stance in the movement because of social or family reasons, but making it known you support it is also a big thing.