There have been horrendous and disgusting displays of brutality that, while it certainly has been representative of incidents that have been occurring for decades, have been high profile in the media during the past few weeks. That’s part of a primary concern with protests going on across the United States. It’s the primary messaging and goals sought by the movement of those who are protesting with Black Lives Matter and other groups. And, it almost goes without saying that it’s a very noble message and represents essential goals for a free society.
It amazes me that the profile of these incidents more recently have even brought conservatives to this realization. For the first time that I have witnessed in my life, within my limited sphere, people are mostly united in their desire to do something and make some changes. This is a golden opportunity for those in the movement against not only incidents that we have witnessed the past few weeks, but also for permanent improvements in policy and systemic change. Black Lives Matter and associated groups, for the first time, have allies amongst conservatives as well as many in law enforcement. I can’t imagine a better time to bring about change.
The problem is that protests and demonstrations have been organized in such a fashion as to focus not only on government and officials but on citizens as well. It’s understandable. People want to bring attention to these topics. They want to wake people up and get them to take a look and think about what’s going on. They want people to take notice in a big way and do something and understand what’s going on. Of course, physical altercations and property damage are going to turn off just about any peaceful person. Stopping traffic flows and other tactics cause everyday people to have these issues in their face, and that might be a good way of doing it.
But here’s the thing: All of us are already listening. Conservatives and others who have traditionally ignored the movement are now already with the movement. They already want the changes to occur as well. The tactics being used would apply well if people weren’t listening, and it would be helpful to try and persuade others to join the movement if for any other reason to take notice. But that has already been accomplished. Perhaps not as well as the majority in the movement would like, but it has happened nonetheless.
It is bad strategy to alienate allies. Government officials are the ones who will be in charge of making changes and have not yet done so. New allies want the changes as well, and yet it is those very allies that are being put off by property damage, by stopping traffic, and by acts that threaten livelihoods and security (at least in their minds). It seems like a golden opportunity is being squandered by bad strategy.
There needs to be a rapid focus on building a bridge to conservatives. Rather than doing things to attempt to draw their attention by more forceful means, it makes more sense to reach out in a positive way. Black Lives Matter should be reaching out to conservative groups and asking for help. The help is there, and it is likely many conservatives would join the movement if they were approached with more amicable strategies.
These protests are a good thing. They are there to bring about positive change. However, for those changes to take place, this golden opportunity for gaining support from not just a majority of Americans, but with a near consensus, it is necessary to form coalitions. A coalition with conservatives requires different tactics and different strategies from those currently in use.
I will admit that what I have to say is easily written off as something being written by a white male. I have never had the experience of a person of color. It would be impossible for me to do so. That doesn’t mean I do not strongly support most of the goals of the movement that seeks change.
Believe me or not, a person does not have to have experienced the same things as another person to either deny or support their goals. Black Lives Matter, I am with you. I just think you’re using the wrong tactics, and I may be crucified for saying so, but I just want change to succeed. When I am in solidarity with a movement, I will always speak out against what I view as the wrong tactics to accomplish the goals.