A memo to Black Lives Matter

As a White American from White suburbia, I fashion myself as an ally to the Black community. 

I have gone to such lengths as protesting, petition signing and educating those around me in the White community about how important it is we stand up to support our Black brothers and sisters in this country. 

With that said, I do not find the current methods of revolt against an unjust system to be working. Canceling people on social media, lashing out against right wing radicalism in a tribal way and encouraging open acts of violence by not denouncing and separating them from the BLM movement is stoking the fire of the right wing, not achieving meaningful enough progress. 

The Civil Rights movement in America, while it did not embrace nonviolent strategies at all times, showed us exactly how using the basic ideas behind strategic nonviolence can put more pressure on the establishment to invoke legislative change by exposing the flaws of the radical right wing, consumed in their white privilege and ignorance to the reality of race in America. 

Accompanying such acts of civil resistance is the element of intentional spontaneity which continuously boosts the energy and support around a prolonged movement such as the Civil Rights Movement or Black Lives Matter. 

By planning for spontaneous acts of strategic nonviolence, not only is the attention and spotlight continuously kept on the issue at hand, but it also often leaves the opposition unorganized and exposed. 

Key successful examples of this drawn from the Civil Rights era are the Montgomery bus boycotts beginning in 1955 and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. In both instances, there was much planning put into effectively disrupting a sector of public life to become a voice for change, not by being violent, but rather through civil disobedience. 

Communities of supporters rallied around popular figures in Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., seeing their plight in the face of discrimination and racial dissension.

Strategic nonviolence did not come without its risks, however. Those involved risked imprisonment, injury and most importantly that their ultimate goal of equality may not be achieved even by making the ultimate sacrifice. In order to combat these fears, strength in numbers was required. The more people joining in on the push for racial equality in Birmingham made it safer for everyone involved. 

The support of some of the local White community, the use of the media to showcase the brutality of White supremacy and continued perseverance by allies despite intimidation and threats coming from the enemy would prove to overcome those initial challenges presented by the push for racial equality.

In short, BLM, please remember the great history of the Civil Rights Movement. Adhere to the strategies of nonviolent action which have been proven to work. 

We are alive at a time of great opportunity. A Democratic administration has taken the Presidential office and the Democratic Party controls Congress. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to take this movement to the next level by holding our leaders who claim to support BLM accountable. 

Let’s put pressure on those in power to foster meaningful change like we have successfully done in the not-so-distant past. Finally, continue to care, because the “good guys” can win this fight.