One of the more intense arguments I had with anti-Black Lives Matter people in Idaho was over the idea that the BLM movement hates capitalism and, apparently, wants to destroy the nuclear family. You can’t make this stuff up. BLM does not seek to destroy the nuclear family, of course. What activists in the movement and, to be honest, right across the left want is to expand the definition of the nuclear family, and for everyone to understand that same-sex households are as structurally and morally sound as the traditional Christian household of a man and wife.
It seems absurd to have to repeat this, but Evangelical pastors and political leaders stoke an irrational fear of non-traditional families to protect and consolidate the White-Christian strangle hold on social power. The mere existence of non-normative family units will, they warm, somehow lead to the destruction of the family as an institution, and society as a whole.
My friends who fear BLM’s intentions for the family need to get a grip on reality and understand that neither BLM nor any other crazy liberals want to destroy their families, or even to challenge their personal definitions of the family. If it works for them, then that’s just great.
What we want is for them to accept that others may have other ideas and definitions of the family, and that all families should be given the same fiscal and social support as theirs, and the same opportunities for success. It is hardly a radical demand, but it is a step too far for cis, straight, white Christian privilege and bigotry.
As for Black Lives Matter’s apparent hatred of capitalism, it is worth remembering that it is a broad and diverse movement, encompassing a wide range of economic views. Still, how can conservatives be so shocked that oppressed minority might have an issue with the economic system that has allowed white people to flourish while African Americans have been historically consigned to poverty and exploitation?
According to a 2019 article by the Center for American Progress, Black workers have fewer well-paid, stable jobs with decent benefits than white Americans, resulting in a widening racial wealth gap. This is a racialized economic reality.
The racialized realities of the criminal “justice” system, moreover only make matters worse. When a Black man is imprisoned for a petty offense such as drug possession, a contributing member of a Black family is removed, placing a heavy economic burden on the backs of a single mother and the extended family. Thus, racial justice, economic justice, and family life are inextricably linked. Conservative policies, capitalism, and racism, not Black Lives Matter, have damaged to the nuclear family.
Systemic barriers built into our legal and social system destroy opportunities for non-white families to move up the social ladder. They prevent children from developing skills necessary to succeed in the academic and job market. The scarlet letter of “felon” painted on a criminal record by a racist justice system prevents blocks access to both good jobs and good job training. This, in turn, makes it almost impossible to earn enough to save, and accumulate capital and property, two things necessary for success in a capitalist society.
It is a vicious, self-disciplining, and self-sustaining cycle of oppression and exploitation.
So why would anyone expect a movement for racial justice to support an economic system and social structure designed to perpetuate oppression and exploitation? The is that the white bourgeois has no clue what capitalism really is. They actually think that hard-work is capitalism. They think their labor is capital. They do not understand that labor is what the working class sells to those who hold capital in order to earn just enough to put a roof over their heads and just enough food on the table to remain productive.
Capital is not labor. Capital is property and wealth.
Until white conservatives understand this then I am not quite sure that we can expect the resistance to the changes necessary for Black lives to matter in America.
It is a tall order, but educators can play a vital role to help bring those changes about. We must educate our students, families, and friends about what capitalism actually is. Only then can we hope yo make the much-needed changes to our society that will not only make Black lives truly matter, but will improve the lot of us all.