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7 myths about Black Lives Matter people need to stop believing

This article is condensed from Huffington Post. Read the original version here. Below, “Cooper” refers to Richard M. Cooper, a clinical assistant professor at Widener University whose work centers on race and social justice issues.

1. It’s new.

The phrase “Black lives matter” wasn’t really part of the modern conversation until … writer and activist Alicia Garza included the phrase in a Facebook post and it was amplified by others. But the idea has been fought for over the past several hundred years. “It’s really a continuation of … fighting for civil rights and social justice by people of color …. It just happens to be called ‘Black Lives Matter’ now,” Cooper said. …

2. It’s disorganized.

There are three well-known founders of the Black Lives Matter organization, including Garza, but the general movement by that same name is a decentralized, grassroots effort that spans regions, demographics and mediums. For that reason, some critics say that it lacks leadership or a clear agenda. … For an outsider, it might seem disorganized. But … Cooper [says] “this group has organized far better than past movements.”

3. It’s pro-violence.

… “It’s absurd because it’s the thing we’re protesting against,” said Michelle Saahene …. “People need to … differentiate between protesters and rioters, or protesters and opportunists … people go out of their way to make it look like this movement is a violent movement,” Saahene said. “People really need to just think … about what Black Lives Matter actually stands for and what they’re fighting against.” …

4. It’s anti-police.

Law enforcement’s track record with Black Americans is troubling, to say the least. … But the Black Lives Matter movement is not about retaliation or eliminating police. Rather, it’s about examining the structure of law enforcement and how it can better serve communities, especially Black and brown ones. Defunding the police … is scary to a lot of people, often because they don’t understand what it means. Defunding isn’t about abolishing law enforcement. “It’s to look at how police departments have been funded to do things that they shouldn’t necessarily have to do anyway and don’t necessarily do well, that would be better met by other groups who’ve been trained differently and provided better resources,” Cooper said. …

5. It’s racist.

The phrase “Black lives matter” is not meant to be divisive. And yet it ruffles some (white) people’s feathers. Some even go so far as to claim that prioritizing Black lives is a form of reverse racism …. “Because our lives are treated as if they don’t matter, we have to specifically say that they do,” Saahene said. … “We’re not saying Black lives matter more, we’re saying they matter too,” added Melissa DePino …. “It’s about creating a situation in which everybody has the same privileges.”

6. It’s a front for Democratic funding.

… [T]here is a misconception that the Black Lives Matter movement arose for the purpose of gaining political control. [A] now-deleted Facebook post … claimed donations to Black Lives Matter were being funneled to a “Democrat Super PAC.” … ActBlue is simply a donation processing platform …. Though members of the movement do seek to change many of the laws and policies that harm Black people, Saahene said, it’s not a political group. “They’re activists like me.”

7. It’s on Black BLM supporters to fix racism.

… “When you’re doing anti-racism work, you can’t always have the victims doing the work,” Cooper said. “It’s those who have the advantages, structurally and historically, who need to be rolling up their sleeves.” DePino agreed that racism is not a “Black problem” and it’s up to white people to … and figure out how to stop causing harm ….

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