Right Now #BlackLivesMatter Is Wasting Everybody’s Time


Representatives of the Black Lives Matters movement met with Hillary Clinton, and if you actually thought this movement was about stopping black people from being killed and reforming criminal justice issues with minorities, you should not only be disappointed but disgusted.

The group – affiliated with Black Lives Matter organizations in the Boston area — told reporters afterwards that they asked Clinton about “her and her family’s history with the war on drugs both at home and abroad, and how she felt about her involvement in that violence that has been perpetuated, especially against communities of color and against black folks,” said Daunasia Yancey. “We wanted to know her reflections on her involvement as first lady, as senator, and as secretary of state.”


“What we got was a Hillary Clinton who was willing to delve into the issues given her platform constraints, but she was not willing to take responsibility for or give much voice to the anti-blackness current. She validated some of the points that we offered, but she didn’t offer many of her own,” said Julius Jones of Worcester, Mass. “She was intentional about meeting us. She got something out of the meeting, that much is certain. What I feel like I got out of the meeting was to press her in a very real way and probably in a way that she hasn’t been pressed in a long time.”

What an amazing waste of time and opportunity. You meet with the Democratic front runner for president, right now the person in the field in either party with the highest likelihood of being president, and the best you can do is ask her about her feelings?

No offense to Secretary Clinton, but I don’t care about her feelings on this issue as much as I am interested in her and other leaders – of either party – getting behind concrete reforms to stop — STOP — the policies and tactics that have led to such problems for our fellow Americans.

I’m sure Clinton’s feelings on racial issues vis a vis President Clinton’s policies on crime and justice issues may make for interesting fodder for a longform magazine piece, but it’s not policy, it’s not reform, it’s therapy.

All along I’ve been worried that #BlackLivesMatter was some sort of millennial-flavored angst, a generation once again letting its feelings cloud out everything else. I’ve hoped that wasn’t the case. I hoped that what we’ve been seeing is about getting actual change to happen, the sausage making boring stuff that past movements – women’s rights, minority rights, gay rights – got done that have made America a better country now than it used to be.

Perhaps this exchange has been mis-characterized. God, I hope so. Because if this is accurate, if its about feelings and notions and not laws and rules and policies, the movement is doomed.

Politicians are generally speaking savvy enough to know how to placate people without rocking the boat. The boat needs to be rocked on this issue, but if all you’re demanding is for a politician to do the bare minimum to get you to stop annoying them that is all that will happen. So Bernie Sanders will put up a policy web page, Hillary Clinton will tell you that she understands your plight, and Martin O’Malley will agree with you that black lives do matter, but not a single one of them has an incentive to do much more than that.

Maybe they’ll do it on their own out of a sense of inner morality, but you haven’t done your job as an activist movement to push them to do more. You haven’t led the horse to water, you’ve at best had the horse acknowledge the existence of water, no more.

If that’s all you’re doing, you’re wasting everybody’s time.


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