Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., says he believes the Black Lives Matter movement will team up with the so-called Islamic State to destroy the United States. Clark, who is black, is a frequent guest on Fox News and often attacks the minority activism group. “Before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS to being down our legal constituted [sic] republic,” he tweeted late Tuesday evening. “You heard it first here.” Several hours later, he followed up with another word of confidence: “I have been right on every call I have made about these subversives. I will be right again.”I think that, if these comments were made by a white police official, we would feel quite comfortable chalking them up to racist sentiment. How is that assessment altered when the speaker is black? And how, as a white person, should one interact with such a statement in a fair and equitable manner?
I ask those questions because I think they're genuinely interesting questions. On the one hand, respect for minorities means respecting their right to form independent judgments that may diverge quite significantly from those of their fellows. On the other hand, requiring a rule of unanimity regarding "what is racism" (or other forms of oppression) is another way of saying "nothing can ever be racist." There will never be uniformity. Likewise, I don't view it as my place as a white person to police the boundaries of what is and isn't a legitimate black opinion. On the other hand, I think there would be something clearly askance if a white person structured their interracial relations by simply finding a dissident minority wing of black persons who agree with their prefigured positions, and use their presence as a means of avoiding a broader reckoning with the other community.
Again, no answers in this post -- just questions worth pondering.