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Guest opinion: Do all black lives matter to activists?

Guest opinion: Do all black lives matter to activists?

Racial Injustice Black Lives Convention

Antonio Mingo, right, holds his fists in the air as demonstrators protest in front of a police line on a section of 16th Street that's been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, on June 24 in Washington.

I have a wonderful son-in-law, who happens to be Black, and a gifted grandson, who is half Black, both of whom I love dearly. Their lives matter to me. However, it concerns me that, to many politicians on both sides, their Black lives don’t matter. Only their vote does. In fact, Joe Biden said, if Blacks don’t vote for him in November then “… you ain’t black.” Does their Black life then cease to matter to Joe?

I wonder if all Black lives even matter to the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement? It appears to me that only certain Black lives do. If a Black is the victim of an abusive white police officer and political points can be made, and money raised because of that, then their life matters, no matter if a criminal act led to the encounter or not. But if you are Black, live in the inner city and get shot by another Black, your life doesn’t seem to matter because your story can’t be used to create racial division, raise money, or solicit votes. If you are a Black business owner and your business gets burned down during a “demonstration,” causing several Black workers to lose their jobs, why don’t their Black lives matter?

Hundreds of Black babies die at the hands of Planned Parenthood abortionists every year. The Democratic position is that even if they survive the abortion they can be left to die. Why don’t their Black lives matter?

What I believe is that until we in America stop using each other as political fodder, separating each other by race, physical trait, nation of origin or for some other reason to gain our vote, we will never see each other as truly American and equal. According to our Constitution, we are all created equal.

All lives matter. When our parents went to war in Europe to defend freedom against Communism and Fascism our military was made up of all races, but known as Americans. Today we have become a hyphenated people: Native-American, Asian-American, African-American, Mexican-American, White-American, Black-American, White-Supremacist, pick your descriptive word. We have learned to emphasize our differences. Why? To gain positions of power, or control, or to raise money. We label each other as liberal, or conservative, Democrat or Republican etc. rather than take the time to get to know and respect one another as individuals with different points of view. With the labeling comes judgments and prejudices.

This country became great because we saw each other as American first. We have been champions of freedom for all peoples of any Nation. We aren’t perfect, but who is?

I have lived in Billings for 44 years since leaving high school teaching in Oakland California. My childhood was spent in Southern California. Many of my friends and schoolmates there were Mexican. As a child, I didn’t realize we were different. All our lives mattered to each other. We in America will only overcome our prejudices when get back to that child-like innocence and see each other as an individual person, a friend, our neighbor, and accept and appreciate each other for our uniqueness. Christ told us: “I assure you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God (Mt 18:3).” God’s kingdom involves living in peace, loving our neighbor. When we regain our childlike, non-judgmental innocence, only then will racism be gone.

Harold Merchant was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1968.  After teaching for seven years in Oakland, California, he was transferred to Billings as Pastor of Little Flower Parish (now Mary Queen of Peace).  He left the priesthood in 1983 and married. He has worked in Billings for St. Vincent Hospital in training and development; as a counselor in private practice; as executive director at St. Vincent de Paul; and as an on-call chaplain at St. Vincent Hospital. He has four children and two grandchildren.


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