The Clare Spark Blog

July 9, 2016

Understanding “Black Lives Matter”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:33 pm
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Prince obit in Nation

Prince obit in Nation

[Update: 7-12-16: Nothing in this blog should suggest that I agree with the premises of black nationalism, and certainly not BLM. But I do deplore those who underestimate the condition of black persons; though many have climbed the class ladder since the early 20th century (the Niagara Movement, 1905)), the black masses have been left behind.]

It would be very easy to join with conservatives who are indignantly denouncing black nationalism (Black Lives Matter, Nation of Islam, Black Panthers) as controlled by white leftists (or worse). This blog is about my rejection of this political strategy (despite the pervasive antisemitism in these all-black, separatist groups), spiced with my own life experience as a Jewish woman born in 1937.

What prompted this statement was Sean Hannity’s program 7-8-16, where he was covering the Baton Rouge demonstration (live), and kept asking his local Louisiana surrogate to ask the protesters why they were supporting Barack Obama, given the record of black unemployment, etc. or if they were not ignoring “the presumption of innocence” rule that should have led them to understand that their demonstration was inappropriate. He also kept urging the surrogate to denounce Black Lives Matter (for their chant “Pigs in a blanket….”).

The demonstrators (all young and black) were having none of this, and I think I know why, for I found Hannity’s long-distance confrontation with the protesters to be wrong-headed, unempathic, and gross.

My father volunteered for the Medical Corps in 1942, and, as he was a pathologist working at various army bases in Texas, Missouri, and California, we followed him around. In school after school, I was the only Jewish girl amid a sea of white Christians. The teachers took me under their wings, and made me the teacher’s pet, so I was sheltered from the rejection of my fellows.

It was not until after the war when we lived in a veteran’s housing project that I felt the wrath of white boys (and girls?) with Italian, Irish, and Polish names. I bonded with some, but was chased home one afternoon by a gang of Elmhurst boys, one of whom was brandishing a knife. My mother confronted the principal of P.S. 13, one Lillian Eschenbecker (a German name!), who pronounced that I was like a shiny red apple, appetizing “on the outside, but rotten to the core.”

I have forgotten much of my life, but that incident will always be with me, for the rest of my scholastic career, I was most comfortable among other Jews, male and female alike. But I turned my righteous anger against myself, and have symptoms to this day.

For other mature white people lacking empathy with angry, bottled-up residentially segregated blacks, railing against [white] authority or millionaire actors and musicians, may I recommend that you read 20th century black authors, who have turned to fiction to express their maddening rage and longing for solidarity?  I remember reading Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Chester Himes, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, noting their candor– alongside of wistful desires to be accepted by a larger whole and not just as “gladiators.”

Once, at a big UCLA conference in the humanities, I turned around to face a packed room of faculty and students, pleading for integrated, not just the trendy separatist, classes in women’s and ethnic studies.  Famous honcho Hayden White came up to me to ask (ironically?) if I was on the job market, while other big shots (all white tenured professors) mocked me for imputed racism and un-hipness.

At this point in my life, I have experienced enough injustice to understand the cry of “no justice, no peace.”

I wish that I had had similar instruction when I was young and foolish.


  1. After touring the country recently I think the BLM is a very small group that is getting a lot of attention. I saw nowhere in the South confrontation just people going to work and living their lives all quite integrated. I may not know a lot of Black people but am I supposed to go hunt them down and make them be my friend? I’ve been very congenial and when I encounter them and some do fall under the title of acquaintance, this is almost seeming like affirmative action on your friends list. I am sorry more of my fellow Americans have not climbed the latter, let alone me. With Affirmative Action I was warned off the Electricians Union Apprenticeship Program in 72/73 as women and minorities need only apply. Running afowl of the law seems to have become a culture thing as rule of law, where it is applied equally, has gone away and the opposite is claimed but if you looked at all the plea agreements and such Black people are committing crimes way beyond their percentages of the population yet claim to be singled out, there has been a fair amount of “Let it go” on their behalf too. The popular culture of the last 40 years has gotten more and more violent and vile, language arts are a joke and thug culture is not something that will get you hired. There is self inflicted wounds as well as the wounds inflicted by Leftist’s helping hand as their programs really have not helped much but hey why look at the results. Bad behavior can not be corrected when when the perp is also considered the victim. I can agree that the Black Community has been failed by the Elite Left as that is where they chose to go, the path that said you are owed. This is a disservice that is ingrained in our culture. Since 1970 this Nation has tried to make amends and to say we are far worse today then we were then just seems to me like what can we do? It just seems incredibly inaccurate for a Black person born in 1990 to talk of ultra institutional racism after all the affirmative action and an ever rising pile of “Make it Fair” things I just can not see it, call me insensitive.

    Comment by hrwolfe — September 13, 2016 @ 2:15 am | Reply

  2. […] the black masses/underclass have been left behind by their upwardly mobile families and friends (, but I didn’t mention the erasure of class consciousness in the so-called “black community” […]

    Pingback by What _____ “Community”? | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — August 19, 2016 @ 7:20 pm | Reply

  3. numbers of young black men who die at the hands of other young black men
    who’s irritating (though really I’d use other verbs) are the “critics” of BLM who think that citizens can persuade city council members to simply fire neighborhood criminals.

    Comment by Name — July 21, 2016 @ 11:10 am | Reply

  4. I got here from your blurb on Algemeiner. I’m glad I did. Too many people there and on the Right have exactly ZERO understanding of the American Black community. They have no black friends. I mean REAL friends, not co-workers, or a neighbor, but FRIENDS. The type of people who confide in you. I’m a Jew. I hold dual Ameri/Israeli citizenship and I’ve lived what I could only call a bit of an odd life in the midst of lots of very different communities. I’m a Disc Jockey by profession and that has also meant that one night I may be playing $$100,000.00 Corporate event, a wedding at a 5 Star Hotel with people we’ve all heard of as guests, and the next week you might find me spinning in a very “Urban” bar or in a Latino neighborhood.

    So I get it. The Black community in America has been rendered asunder via the “War on Drugs”, insufficient funding for education, a pittance for neighborhood environmental infrastructure, “stop and search” where everybody is treated as a suspect criminal, and going to jail is at this point just a part of growing up. This is a result of racism. And the police brutality is the final stop. People are simply DONE with the way the system fails them day in and day out and they aren’t going to sit for it anymore.

    What really burns me is how Jewish Zionists clearly see that the media gets it wrong about Israel ALL the time. The meme that Jews are “stealing” land or committing genocide of the Palestinians is something we know is anti-Semitism dressed up as humanitarianism. And they KNOW that if the truly well meaning individuals knew the truth their opinions would change in light of the facts. They curse them for not taking the time to find out just what all the facts are. And then… they do the same thing to someone else. Drives me crazy.

    Comment by Alexi — July 16, 2016 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  5. My irritation with BLM is their disinterest in the vastly higher numbers of young black men who die at the hands of other young black men. BLM only has interest when cops are involved. Ergo, black lives don’t matter unless there is publicity, media and political attention to be gained. “Hypocrisy” is far too mild a word, but that’s what I will use.

    Comment by G. Schirtzinger — July 11, 2016 @ 10:48 pm | Reply

  6. I think the Buddhist noble truth of compassion, i.e., every living thing knows suffering, can and should be applied here. I was a white male christian in a small town. My family was from the wrong side of the tracks. A (female) tenured high school teacher repeatedly referred to me as “it.” Some of the upperclassmen relentlessly taunted my by distorting my last name into an insult. It was character forming. My “revenge” was to excel in athletics as well as academics. My older brother (now deceased) left town, graduated college, became an air force fighter pilot and left the service at the rank of colonel. I did a short tour in the Marine Corps, and at late midlife am a professor at a small college. My discipline is in the humanities, and I’m an undercover conservative leaning independent. There’s no question that my collegiality index would plummet if my politics were widely known. So we all suffer, we’re all under threat of some kind.

    I’ve read Wright, Ellison, Baldwin, and Morrison, I’m no stranger to the challenges they raise. The small institution for which I work has a significant African-American population of about 30%, while the larger community African-American population is about 65%. Sadly, our teaching corps does not reflect the community demographic, though this is not for trying. I have sat a number of hiring committees over the 15 years I’ve been teaching. Qualified minority academics are snapped up by larger, more prestigious schools. Almost all of our faculty is from out of state. The college is an island of cosmopolitan worldview.

    It’s true I’ll never be Jewish or Black. I don’t pretend to understand the pressures and issues people with those identities must endure. And strangely, I also saw the Hannity program you cite. I usually watch Greta and Kelly among others, and avoid Hannity, but he cut to the man on the street immediately and I continued to watch. I thought what he was asking of the correspondent was ludicrous. and simply confirmed why I don’t watch that program. I appreciated the woman he cornered who responded calmly and intelligently to someone she likely viewed as adversarial. It does no one any good to maneuver unsuspecting people into artificial positions in order to exploit them. On the other hand, the generalizations by Black Lives Matter protesters of white people and police are unfortunate. (While the overall rates are miniscule, black police have a higher minority shooting rate than white police.) They decry generalizing of black victims, while engaging in the practice as a rule. And the practice is destructive of order. Baltimore is having trouble recruiting police to fill vacancies. If it continues the city may become ungovernable. Parts of Chicago are already free-fire zones despite having strict gun control measures.

    I can’t help but think that while the anger is understandable, by demanding the effective reduction or elimination of police force, BLM may well be adding to the problem.

    Comment by Terbreugghen — July 9, 2016 @ 11:25 pm | Reply

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