On Twitter, I have supported #BlackLivesMatter because I saw it in the Ferguson context and felt those who were using the hashtag were making good points. That’s the way hashtags are used. I didn’t think it might have been created for specific purposes. Today, Steven Wedgeworth describes the origins of what was meant to be a cultural movement and asks if Evangelicals should be co-opting the tag or consider themselves co-belligerents with them.
So far [Evangelicals] seem to be doing exactly what BLM asks them not to do. They are denying that BLM applies to a number of specific controversial political issues and are instead saying that it should primarily be understood as a generic affirmation of the defense and respect of Black life. There has been little to no interaction with the profound emphasis BLM places on sexual liberation, and Evangelicals have certainly not credited this ideology as the founding genius of BLM. In other words, you might say that Evangelicals have been stealing Black Queer Women’s work.
Wedgeworth suggests Christians advocate for the value of the black community and individual dignity in Christian terms and avoid draw unnecessary criticism to themselves by using other people’s banners.
Also in this vein, Jason Riley reviews Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment, by Michael Javen Fortner.
The book’s broader point—and Fortner makes it in a clear, fluid prose style that rarely lapses into academic jargon—is that a black silent majority at the time “was much more alarmed about drug addiction and violent crime than its white analogue” and ultimately motivated to take action. It was blacks who instigated the crackdown on black criminality, often over the opposition of white liberals and black political elites.
Black families, particularly in New York City, were suffering from drug-related crime in the 60s and 70s, so they pressed for tough penalties for drug-related offenses, which incarcerated far more blacks than whites because of the criminal culture of the day. Now this racial disparity is criticized as racism within the law. Riley quotes Fortner, saying, “While the literature on mass incarceration has correctly highlighted racial discrimination within the criminal justice system, it has unnecessarily discounted the hurt and terror of those who clutch their billfolds as they sleep, of those who exit their apartments and leave their buildings with trepidation, and of those who have had to bury a son or daughter because of gang activity, the drug trade, or random violence.”
UPDATE: Ed Stetzer offers this brief perspective on the matter with his tag #HellenistWidowsMatter.