Detroit 1943

Detroit had a race riot in June 1943, during World War II. Failure to address the causes of that riot led directly to the much worse riots of July 1967. A similar opportunity to address racism and injustice may be being squandered today. A major part of the reason is the Black Lives Matter movement seems more interested in intimidation and screaming in anger than they are about getting anything done.

Black lives matter. There! I said it! That was easy enough. Yes, I believe all lives matter, and Black lives matter, too. The reason that seems like a radical statement is because, for a long time in this country, it seemed like Black lives didn’t matter.

You’ll notice I said Black lives matter with mostly lower case letters. This should be a statement of undeniable fact. I didn’t say Black Lives Matter with capital letters, as in the movement or organization.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, Minn. police officers in May outraged Americans, including many in law enforcement. We have a golden opportunity in this country to truly address centuries of racism and oppression. Unfortunately, there is a real danger this opportunity will be squandered. A part of the reason for this is Black Lives Matter seems more interested in intimidating and yelling and screaming in anger than actually getting anything done.

The movement is also becoming a club to wield over others who aren’t “woke” enough. No criticism of the movement is to be tolerated. Critics must be destroyed.

Consider the following:

Activist Tamika Mallory declared she didn’t care if Target and Auto Zone stores were burned down because those companies should be protesting for social justice. She also said white people have no business complaining about looters because they are the real looters; they’ve looted Black and Native American lives.

On June 26 in Washington, D.C., Black Lives Matter activists swarmed into a Target store and chanted they would shut the place down if they ever called the police on someone. They said the store cared more about money than the community.

On July 5, Jessica Whitaker, 24, was shot to death after she, her fiancée, and others got into an argument with a group of blacks in Indianapolis, Ind. When they said, “Black lives matter!” she replied “All lives matter!” Her Facebook page was filled with messages saying she was a racist and got what she deserved for saying that.

On July 11, two McAllen, Texas police officers were shot and killed while answering a domestic violence call. One of them left behind a 12-year-old daughter, who paid tribute to him on Twitter. She was attacked by other Twitter users when she used the hashtag #bluelivesmatter. One of the nicer comments said being a police officer is a choice and blue people don’t exist.

There are other examples out there.

Seriously, what has Black Lives Matter done to try to improve relations between the black community and the police? I’ll be the first to admit the relations between Black Americans and law enforcement have been horrendous. It started with slave patrols in the 1700s. After the Civil War, black men in the South were subjected to being arrested on trumped-up charges, having impossibly high bails set, and then had their labor sold to the highest bidder, with funds going to the county that held him. Policing for profit is nothing new.

In the 20th Century, the Ku Klux Klan infiltrated many law enforcement agencies. In the 1960s, racist cultures in police departments led to the riots in Harlem, Watts, Newark and Detroit.

Still, many law enforcement agencies have recently shown a willingness to change. Black Lives Matter has all but thrown this willingness back in their faces. They seem more interested in abolishing the police than anything else.

While we’re at it, what has Black Lives Matter done to encourage business to invest in the Black community and bring jobs and services? Again, they appear to be more interested in griping and intimidating than anything else.

Perhaps the problem is so many activists are letting anger and hatred get the better of them.

I keep hearing that, as a white person, I shouldn’t be selectively quoting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the risk of being called a racist, I will point out that no man in America was more hated in his lifetime than he was. He was an angry man. He couldn’t have done what he did if he weren’t. Yet, he channeled his anger. He also refused to hate his opponents. He was a Christian pastor, and he knew that only love could defeat hate. He channeled his anger, and he tempered it with Christian love. As a result, he moved mountains. He also changed many human hearts and minds, the hardest things in the world to change.

Anger is a powerful emotion. It’s like gasoline. If it isn’t channeled, it explodes and destroys everything around it. If channeled, however, it can make a car go forward.

Did you know Detroit has a major race riot in 1943? The causes, racism and injustice, were obvious. In the immediate years afterward, Detroit had a chance to address the causes and create a more equitable and just city. Sadly, they squandered the opportunity. Detroit’s white leadership seemed to blame the black residents for the riot. Under Mayor Al Cobo in the 1950s, the city’s leaders seemed to want to make life difficult for the black residents.

The result was the terrible riots of July 1967 that were far worse than what happened in 1943.

If this current opportunity to address racism and injustice is squandered, we will deserve what happens to us.


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