A lot of folks, including reporters, don’t know what to make of the Black Lives Matter movement. They provide lots of colorful copy although they seem to disdain the media along with many other institutions, plus they’ve been accused of racism themselves.
Churches have likewise been confused on what to do. Some say churches aren’t involved enough with the BLM folks and others say the BLM movement has alienated those in black churches who have wanted to help only to be shouted down and treated rudely. I’ve written before on the disconnect one Seattle activist felt about her church.
And now here comes an interesting piece in the Los Angeles Times about why those in the black church – have dismissed Black Lives Matter:
For decades, they’ve been catalysts for civil rights activism, occupying an important niche at the center of protests over police misconduct and racial flashpoints in Los Angeles, from the Rodney J. King beating to the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.
But some black churches in Los Angeles, and the traditional African American clergy who lead them, have kept a decided distance from the new breed of activism represented by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Many church leaders have been cool to the brash, in-your-face tactics of Black Lives Matter. Ministers have spoken out forcefully about the way blacks are treated by police, but few have openly supported the group. For their part, Black Lives Matter organizers have turned to street protests and social media to get their message out rather than relying on the pulpit.
In many ways, the division is generational. Black Lives Matter is a young movement, while many black churches tend to cater to older parishioners. But there are also political differences.
A few paragraphs later, the article makes a sudden turn to profile a pastor who – despite misgivings -- has reached out to the BLM people.
Last month (Pastor Eddie Anderson) invited members of the protest movement to his church. More than 250 filled the pews at McCarty, dwarfing a regular membership that hovered at about 70 people -- a far cry from the roughly 1,000 people who flocked to the church in the 1980s.
“Because I’m new,” Anderson said, “it gives me freedom to speak and stand in solidarity with those who may not be the popular choice in power circles, but are doing the work of the people.”
Covering the black church is not an easy beat and the few forays I made into it during my Houston Chronicle days weren’t some of my better articles. What this reporter -- whose beat is South LA -- does is find people on both sides willing to talk about efforts to reach out and reduce some of the alienation between them.
So I appreciate it when a reporter takes the effort to get into the community, interview a variety of people and come up with a story that’s got an unusual twist. So many of these stories are out there and waiting for the right person who takes the time to actually get out of the office and walk the beat.
Meanwhile, I'm curious whether the ship has already sailed in terms of the BLM folks paying any attention to the black church. They've already decided that the church isn't relevant to their cause and they've leapfrogged over traditional black leaders to grab the public microphone.
If you think it's hard for black church leaders to get a hearing with these new radicals, think how tough it is for the media to get sources in this crowd. The reporter who wrote this story is black. Would a white reporter have gotten the same access? I don't think so.
Remember, during the recent Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the BLM organizers were ordering white reporters to the back of the line. Don't believe me? This is just one of several YouTube videos showing it. It's all over the conservative sites but nowhere else.
So, the BLM movement is not going away any time soon. AlJazeera just did a piece on the BLM movement in France. They are demonstrating with Sioux activists against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
One gets the impression from the Times piece that while churches would like to be in contact with the BLM activists and have reached out, the BLM folks aren't that interested in reciprocating. It's a fascinating puzzle and I hope more reporters -- of all races -- begin to cover it.