“Well, those people just don’t listen.”

Dear President Trump,

It’s a small story that’s buried several screen scrolls down in the WP, but I thought you might not want to hear about it so it seemed perfect to write about today. It’s about a 10-year old Boy Scout named Liam Holmes who took a knee during his troops’ Pledge of Allegiance recitation opening a recent Durham, NC City Council meeting.

Before launching into who said what about this, it feels important to observe that the 8 boys from the troop and the adult leader are all white. It’s also important to know that about 43% of the people in Durham are white and 41% are black, which means that probabilistically, about 3 kids in the troop should be black, 3 white, and 2 another race/ethnicity. Of course that’s not how these things work and it’s really not surprising the troop (assuming all were present) is made up exclusively of white people. There are probably also troops in the city comprised solely of children and adult leaders from racial and ethnic minority groups. On the other hand, aside from the white mayor and one white City Council member, 4 of the City Council members are black and the final Council member is Hispanic, so there’s clearly some pretty good (though not quite great) diversity in Durham’s city leadership.

So, onto Liam’s kneel. When asked why he chose to kneel during the P of A, Liam responded “What I did was took a knee against racial discrimination, which is basically [when] people are mean to other people of different colors.” For a 10-year old that’s pretty good and it’s great that he went ahead and did this and is helping diversify the conversation and keep it vibrant. What he probably doesn’t yet grasp is that meanness and more subtle forms of discrimination come in a trillion different forms including things that are easily missed by whites, like the lack of diversity in our own midst. I’m curious what a race-conscious white 10-year old like Liam would say about that; I bet something pretty thoughtful.

Towards the end of the article there was an obligatory reference to an online fusser who said he doesn’t understand why such protests have to be in the context of the P of A and Liam’s general response to those who aren’t supportive was right on: “Well, those people just don’t listen.” Yep, he’s got it.

May we all be safe to protest injustice.
May we all be happy to protest injustice.
May we all have healthy regard for those who put themselves out there on behalf of others.
May we all somehow make peace with the whole of us.

Tracy Simpson

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