“So the goal of BlackLivesMatter is to divide people?”
“Okay, you’re simplifying what I’m saying,” Aaron sighed. “That’s not my point.”
“Then what is your point?” I asked. “I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from.” I believed I had a pretty good idea of what he was getting at. To some of my white friends and family members, the outrage erupting throughout the country in recent years was a very rude awakening from their post-racial dreams. Like me, they passed through those same slim chapters on Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement without even the slightest notion that these figures were radicals. Surely Tubman evaded the dogs, rifles, and threats of lynching while being polite; surely MLK scheduled protests in accordance with white schedules. So often in America we tout ourselves as rebels without ever questioning what that means, it’s simply an inherent virtue.
“What I mean,” Aaron said, “is that we live in a very divided time and that the focus of these equality groups should be to bring people together. They’re driving a wedge between people, and the news and media feed off of it.”
“It started with the news?” I asked, laughing. “Do you think things aren’t that bad?”
“I think isolated incidents with the police and the actions of a few racists don’t justify the anger. I have a diverse group of friends, some of whom are black or Hispanic, and they’re not angry; they’re not rioting whenever the news reports a police altercation.”
I couldn’t hold back a laugh. “You’re saying that because your minority friends aren’t upset, no one else should be?”
“You’re doing it again,” said Aaron vexed. “I’m saying that the media and certain groups want to piss people off and they want to divide us.”
“What is this ‘us‘ you keep referring to? Who makes up that group?”
“Americans,” he said.