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Letter: Organization encourages better recognition of Black humanity

I appreciate Angie Hoffman’s recent response in Wednesday’s paper, but I feel she is being disingenuous in trying to understand the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization. If she was being genuine, why is she stealing reactionary verbiage used during the Red Scare paranoia of the 1940s and ’50s? Why is she taking the same approach that racist white Southerners did against the Civil Rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s?

If Hoffman actually looked at all the evidence, she would understand that BLM is less a prescription for change and more a starting point for understanding the societal and political dynamic that has too long silenced, controlled and terrorized Black lives. She would understand that BLM does not seek to dismantle capitalism but encourage kinder relationships and fairer conditions. She would understand that BLM is not a Marxist movement but a mass movement full of diverse ideologies, opinions and backgrounds.

Let’s make this last point crystal clear with an analogy. In the mid-1800s, the preeminent Republican newspaper in the United States was the New York Daily Tribune. Abraham Lincoln, the most beloved Republican in American history, consistently read the Tribune as a congressman and president, developing close relationships with its writers and staff. During this time, the paper’s London correspondent, and major contributor of his own, was none other than Karl Marx. Also true: Marx and Lincoln warmly corresponded at the end of the war and agreed on many goals around labor and land redistribution. In fact, many of Marx’s associates served in the Lincoln administration. Charles Dana, a revolutionary socialist, served as assistant secretary of war under Lincoln, wielding major influence in the Union’s war effort. One close intimate of Marx, Joseph Weydemeyer, was appointed by Lincoln as a high-ranking colonel responsible for defending St. Louis against the traitorous Confederacy, despite common knowledge he’d created Communist organizations throughout the country. These are just a few out of dozens of similar examples I could have included. 

If I only focused on the individual details of the previous paragraph, I might find myself asking some conspiratorial questions. Was the Republican Party a covert Marxist organization? The Civil War a Bolshevik revolution in disguise? Lincoln a secret socialist? Clearly, the answer to these questions is no. I understand that organizations, social and civil rights movements, and political parties are made up of people with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and visions of the future. I understand that an honest person would look at the whole picture, all the details, and not make opinions and judgments off specifically chosen details that seem to reaffirm personal biases and preconceived notions. To do otherwise could give someone a distorted, conspiratorial, and simplistic view of reality.

I don’t know why Hoffman continues to malign or politicize BLM with red scare tactics. BLM is not a political organization. Ultimately, the words “Black Lives Matter” mean not silencing Black voices, erasing Black experiences or ignoring Black feelings. BLM challenges white people to do a better job at recognizing Black humanity.

Joshua Hinnenkamp

Albert Lea