The commentary in the Rutland Herald by Trevor MacKay and Maya Sobel (April 9) shows courage and talent. It is a well-written piece that deserves credit for what it does. However, their premise is wrong.
The Black Lives Matter movement is not political. It is a social movement that has the intent of correcting one of the worst social ills in the history of this country because it affirms that we are all important — including people of color. The flag does not express an opinion but rather, a fact that should guide our every action as a country.
The Black Lives Matter flag is a statement of just how far we still (have) to go in order to ensure equity and justice for all people. It addresses a shameful history that is replete with racial discrimination and hatred, and that still exists today.
No longer can we tolerate people of color being treated unfairly in the law, in housing, education and jobs. No longer can we tolerate the fact that people of color live with a vigilance that is engendered by the fear that they may not be treated fairly, that they may experience violence, death or imprisonment without justice.
Distrust and anxiety caused by explicit and implicit racism is expressed in actions by individuals and our institutions, often without acknowledgment of the mainstream white citizens of our country. There is a rift between people that needs to be healed. It is an illness that affects the soul of American society.
Every one of us loses out when even one person is left out of opportunities or loses their life without justice. History shows us that this is especially true in the community of people of color.
The students worry that their right to critically think and express themselves is threatened by the flying of the BLM flag. The very fact that they have written this commentary demonstrates that this is false. In fact, the flying of the flag has already generated discourse and critical thinking in the schools and in the community.
Flying the flag is a statement of respect and tolerance that is socially constructed because it shows that we are a community that welcomes and celebrates people of color at a time when so many places fail to offer a safe haven.
The students should embrace the potential to debate and research the history of race. They would come to understand that the very notion of race is a social construct, that racism is a social disease and that the best way to change that is through social discourse and heart-to-heart conversations.
Dr. Alis Headlam is a member of the NAACP, a former member of the Multiracial Alliance of the Rutland Area and a former professor in teacher training.