“Divisive Rhetoric”?

Ok, I keep hearing this complaint time and again. The argument from many people is that “we don’t need this divisive rhetoric” and “we should come together to talk peaceably.”

These are fine sentiments…if they managed to get to the point of understanding why we are where we are. They both demonstrate immense privilege, being worn out, or simple ignorance of the situation. I am noting the use of these statements particularly as it surrounds the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

See, people call the language used by the #BLM movement “divisive rhetoric” or some term related to that. the reason being because they feel that by calling out these differences, you are creating a wider divide. But guess what, by saying this is creating a wider divide, you are acknowledging there is a divide already. Of course, many will argue that the #BLM movement is the cause of the divide. That is, in essence, privilege.

Wait, please don’t run away, please don’t shut your ears, please don’t start getting mad at me. Bear with me as we unpack your belief here. See, the #BLM movement (not the people who have gone out to do harm to police, their part here is a very separate discussion which I will not be having) it focuses on exposing the way officers interact differently with people of color, particularly those who appear to be a part of what we have socially defined as Black. The movement does not focus on creating things. They simply discuss what is there and call for change.

So this divide thing. Many people like to throw out “But there aren’t different races, there is only the human race!” Ok, scientifically, you are right. But remember, we live in a world where both science and society affect our lives. That is why, politically, it is just as, if not more important, for someone to have a religion than it is for them to believe in science (yes, there are politicians who have demonstrated time and again they do not believe in science). Therefore, you really shouldn’t be using that argument. Instead, let’s consider the past of our society. We have spent decades and centuries with people who have darker colored skin being subjected to harsher treatment. There is a great scene from the Malcolm X film discussing language. See, when a race is identified as Black and you see how we, particularly in the West, view the White v. Black dichotomy….well, you get the picture.

(As a side note, there is very little proof this scene actually played out in Malcolm’s life, but you get the point).

So we are discussing centuries of abuse, torture, unfair treatment, and a lack of fair access to “the American Dream.” Of course people expect that to be flipped in a matter of minutes rather than years, let alone decades or centuries. And whether you want to talk about Race, Ability, or even social mobility, the fact remains that there is very little effort put in to changing the landscape we survive in.

So now we come to this idea of coming together peacefully to talk. You heard right, people on both sides of the argument are now calling for this.

But guess what, one side has been asking for that far longer than the other. And I really hope you do not need me to spell it out for you. I have faith, dear reader, that you are smart enough to not only know, but acknowledge which side has been trying to have these conversations for years. Unfortunately, it is only now when the protests have begun when the side in power, the side that has very little to gain from talking, decides it might be a good idea to have these conversations.

See, there has been not only divisive rhetoric, but even divisive actions going on for years. It is only now, when there is a movement which is fed up with not being heard, that the other side of the table has decided to turn the blame for these actions on those who are most affected by these actions…

They are literally dying over the divisiveness of our nation.


About rigsurfer

A Brother of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, Inc., Joined in Fall 2010. Completed a B.A. in English at North Carolina State University in 2013 and received a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University in 2015. Passionate about Leadership and Diversity as well as Ducks, Scooby Doo, and reading.
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