First the action: An elementary school in Durham, N.C., announces that students as young as age 6 will be marching in a “Black Lives Matter March and Rally” scheduled for March 17. Teachers are given the option of having their students participate, but parents are left out of the decision-making process.
The reaction: Robert Mihaly, a sculptor who blogs at The Daily Caller, pens a post assailing the move. He writes:
The phrase “black lives matter” is a simple statement about which all people of goodwill readily agree. The problem with the Black Lives Matter movement is the insidious insinuation that most people, white or otherwise place little value on African-Americans’ lives. Black Lives Matter propaganda about an alleged epidemic of white racism contributes to a divide in society, and could encourage vulnerable people to further feel the cards are stacked against them.
Black Lives Matter has not renounced violence committed in its name.
Mihaly also notes that Stef Bernal-Martinez, a first-grade teacher who describes herself as a “Radical Queer Progressive Educator” and a “white-passing Xicana,” signed her young charges up to march.
Now for the re-reaction: An article at the website IndyWeek defends Bernal-Martinez’s decision against what it terms, interestingly, a “‘Daily Caller’ hit piece.” The author, Danny Hooley, begins:
To take the Daily Caller’s word for it, you’d have to believe that Durham’s Central Park School for Children is preparing students for a Marxist education at Universidad de La Habana.
And it’s all because a teacher dared — gasp — to teach first-grade students about Black Lives Matter, and plan a march with them in support.
Hooley interviewed Bernal-Martinez, who says of the march (which took place yesterday),”It was really fun and exciting. It was a beautiful day.”
She is further quoted saying:
The project that my class took on in this quarter was a study of the Black Lives Matter movement. And so, we’ve been investigating and asking questions about the issues and the causes that people are fighting for, and my kids really took it on. And they were very excited to, sort of, join the movement themselves.
Mihaly is quoted liberally as well. There’s this, for example:
The event, like the Black Lives Matter movement itself, is less a spontaneous protest movement than a divide-and-conquer campaign by elite leftists. Two out of three African-Americans prefer the hrase [sic] “All Lives Matter” to “Black Lives Matter” according to a national August, 2015 Rasmussen poll. The grade school is predominantly Caucasian, but run by radical leftists. Naturally the school didn’t send the parents consent forms.
On the subject of the lack of a letter home to parents, Bernal-Martinez notes:
It wasn’t the formal consent process. It was about, do the kids want to do this, or not? It’s about the children’s agency.
Children’s “agency”? What other decisions are students in first grade permitted to make?
As for the IndyWeek article, for all its bluster and sarcasm, it never addresses any of Mihaly’s legitimate criticism of Black Lives Matter as a socio-political movement. To Mihaly’s assertion that “Black Lives Matter … is less a spontaneous protest movement than a divide-and-conquer campaign by elite leftists,” Hooley writes, “Naturally.” [Emphasis in the original]
To fail to recognize the insidious nature of the Black Lives Matter movement and how it began is to wear blinders.
Earlier in the piece, Bernal-Martinez is quoted as intimating that the Black Lives Matter movement is similar to the civil rights movement. That’s a fairly unflattering view of the civil rights movement, which consisted largely of peaceful demonstrations to right a social wrong. Black Lives Matter is about racial grievance against largely imagined injustices.