That’s right, I’m considered the “old head” on The Porch. It’s a title I wear proudly among my younger brothers whose heads look older than mine. (Yes, I’m talkin’ bout you, Thabiti). Born in the early sixties and raised in the seventies, I have perspective and experiences that slightly differ than the untested on the Porch (Isaac!), so I accept the “old head” moniker gladly. I hope my thoughts are half as helpful as the “old heads’ who shared their perspectives with me.
Last week, I stumbled into a Black Lives Matter meeting. When I say stumbled, that’s exactly what I mean. I study at the neighborhood library two to three times a week. Last week at the end of my study time, I noticed an old acquaintance in one of the meeting rooms and thought I would greet him. To my surprise they were about to call to order a Black Lives Matter meeting to which my buddy invited me to join them. I quickly decided to stay for several reasons. First of all, I have very little confidence in media reporting, and I wanted to get a first-hand view of the organization. Also, I was interested in simply listening. Too often, we (pastors) go into situations like these, with people we know we have disagreements with, only to be quick to speak and slow to listen. The day I walked into that meeting I wanted to simply hear what the Lake County IL, BLM chapter was all about, especially given their national purpose statement.
I’ll summarize my thoughts with five reflections—or, as the young-ins say, “takeaways.” These reflections come from the meeting itself and the subsequent conversation I had with one of the attendees afterwards.
The brother who opened the meeting started out with dispelling the myth that the Black Lives Matter movement has isolated itself from the needs and issues facing over demographics. He used the popular cancer illustration. “All cancer kills” he said. He went on to say, “it would be reckless and insensitive for someone to accuse Breast Cancer Research of not considering the trauma and death brought on by other cancers. To accuse the Black Lives Matter movement of being unconcerned with the lives of others is just as reckless and insensitive.” From someone whose mom died from breast cancer, I thought the old argument was persuasive and his illustration spot on.
Freedom of Speech Matters
This meeting was in the form of a Q and A and the leaders allowed folks to take the mic, ask what they wanted and say what was on their mind. To be honest, I was a bit concerned about this format. I’ve seen meetings with a much tighter agenda go astray when the wrong person got a hold of the mic. However, the leaders of this meeting had more confidence in their abilities to control the crowd than in any overly abrasive or highly charged speaker. Their goal was to listen to the community and hear their concerns unfiltered; that’s exactly what happened. This was a town hall meeting at its best.
They even gave a proud Trump-cap-sportin’, self-pronounced Republican attendee the mic. Though he was like a fish out of water, he was received with dignity from the speakers and was well respected by other attendees.
What I observed was brothers and sisters under control. The facilitators had a handle on their message, and they knew their community. Yes, there was, in my opinion some outlandish things said, but those leading the meeting kept it focused. Everyone who desired had their say.
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SOURCE: The Front Porch