Alonzo Weston

Someone on social media the other day wrote that Black Lives Matter is a racist movement not unlike the Ku Klux Klan or Swastika-flag-carrying protesters.

But there’s a huge difference. One group is for equality, the others are fighting against equality.

I don’t agree with the robbery and vandalism of BLM, if it is in fact being done by the protesters and not oppositional plants. Those actions defeat the cause.

The catalyst for the BLM movement was the murder of a Black man, George Floyd, by white police officers in Minneapolis. This grew to protest all acts of police brutality and 400 years of systemic racial discrimination and white privilege.

I know when you say white privilege many people snarl and bristle and bring up poverty among whites. But that’s not what white privilege means.

White privilege means not having to research a place to see if it’s racist before you go there.

White privilege means not being told by your elders that you have to work twice as hard as a white person to keep the same job.

White privilege is being able to for years buy a home and property anywhere you wanted and not fear being redlined into certain areas.

A friend of mine who worked on a traveling railroad crew never ordered anything other than what the other workers did for fear of his food being singled out and tainted. He figured if he ordered what everyone else did the kitchen staff would not know which plate to spit in or poison. Imagine living with that concern. That’s white privilege.

Most every job I’ve had I had to deal with some form of discrimination.

When I began here at the newspaper 31 years ago, people questioned my qualifications most everywhere I went. I even had a fellow worker at the factory where I also worked at the time ask me if I could read the postings on the company billboard.

Once on a newspaper assignment, a man at a local business reached for the phone to call the cops as soon as I walked in the door.

His excuse was patented. “A Black guy who looks like you was going around robbing area businesses.”

I’ve been threatened with being shot and run out of places as well because of the color of my skin. But like many other Blacks, we never bemoan the fact. We are taught early on that’s the way things are and we’d better adapt to survive.

Many are taught to fear the unknown. Many Blacks and whites never experience each other until late in life, if ever.

I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family where my grandmother, mother, aunts and uncles all had white friends. My neighborhood was integrated with white, Black, rich and poor living door to door, a place where all the grown-ups looked out for all the children so you had to watch what you did as a kid.

We need to get back that sense of togetherness and neighborhood we once had. We have to learn to know and respect each other. That’s what will make America great again, not spreading fear and hate.

Alonzo Weston can be reached at alonzo.weston@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.