Monday, August 24, 2015

peggy hubbard trolls black lives matter


theatlantic |  “You’re hollering this ‘black lives matter’ bullshit,” Hubbard said. “It don’t matter. You’re killing each other.” In fact, the overwhelming majority of people hollering “black lives matter” have never killed and will never kill anyone. The vast majority of Black Lives Matter protestors are not “tearing up the neighborhood” either. These race-based generalizations rob their objects of individual identities. The fact that some young black men carry guns and commit violent crimes doesn’t mean that other young black men and women––totally distinct individuals who happen to share the same skin color––should have their activism discredited, enjoy fewer civil liberties, or be at increased risk of being killed by cops. It is interesting that the various right-wing news sites that picked up this video failed to catch these flaws, despite fancying themselves champions of individualism, color-blindness, and the rights contained in the United States Constitution.

Hubbard was speaking off-the-cuff at a moment of high emotion; it’s possible that she hasn’t fully considered all the implications of her views; but as stated, they are wrongheaded. She might’ve been on solid ground if she’d stopped at arguing that police were justified in shooting Ball-Bey and that Black Lives Matter was wrong to protest that particular killing; instead, she spoke as if the Ball-Bey encounter bears on the righteousness of protesting other deaths, like Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, or any of the other black men that police officers have been indicted for murdering.
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Despite these significant disagreements, I’m glad Peggy Hubbard spoke out on Facebook. It’s generally a good thing when citizens earnestly express their views in public discourse, and she deserves kudos for trying to improve her community as best she can. She has articulated beliefs that are shared by a lot of people, which is itself an important service: Insofar as those beliefs are inaccurate or wrongheaded, better that they be aired and debated than invisible and unexamined.
This viral video and the comments around it also represent an opportunity for the activists of Black Lives Matter to understand how some critics of their movement perceive the world, to engage in conversation and debate, to refine any weaknesses in their own thinking that emerge, and to persuade their interlocutors to adjust some of their positions. In fact, despite Hubbard’s harsh words, I’d bet that, properly engaged, she could be persuaded to voice support for at least a portion of the policing-reform agenda. If so, what an ambassador she would make to millions of potential converts.