Former UN ambassador and civil rights icon Andrew Young has been called out by Black Lives Matter activists and the NAACP for referring to protesters as “unlovable brats.”
Is the ambassador right or is he out of touch?
Let’s give it a Reality Check.
“Those are some unlovable little brats out there sometimes. But you still got to love them anyway and you got to understand them.”
That was Andrew Young speaking about Black Lives Matter activists who have been protesting across the country en masse. Tonight, I’m going to hit on three areas of what Young said and why it created such a backlash.
Let’s start with that statement about activists being “unlovable little brats.”
First of all, activists and citizens who have been marching in these protests across the nation and here in Atlanta are not children. The term “little brat” indicates that they are young, immature, petulant, irrational and spoiled.
What is true about those who are marching?
The term Black Lives Matter was actually born in July of 2013 in a Facebook post by Alicia Garza, called “a love letter to black people.” It took off after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in the summer of 2014.
Since that time, over the past 3 years, there have been Black Lives Matter marches in virtually every major city in the United States: Atlanta, Chicago, New York, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Francisco, Oakland, Cleveland, St. Louis, Ferguson. You name a major city and they have seen marches.
Not only that, but collectively hundreds of thousands of people from various age groups, socio-economic backgrounds and races have all taken part, not simply a group of “little brats.”
“A protest was a serious price to pay. You had to be willing to risk your life,” said Young.
The second major issue is that Young appeared to demean the protests by saying that protesters are simply showing off. Look, the ambassador is correct that during the civil rights area there was a heavy price to pay for protesting, but it is the heavy price that black men have been paying that has inspired the protesters to use their voices.
Young says protesters don’t even have a clear message, that “they are showing off and not even with a clear message and I’m not blaming them for that.”
Young may be right that not all activists have solutions, but there is something to be said for people standing up and and demanding that something be done, which is why where Ambassador Young made the comments was also upsetting: he did so at a private meeting with Atlanta police.
So what you need to know is many young protesters may not know that Andrew Young himself marched with Dr. King and was there, marching with Dr. King, during King’s assassination in Memphis in 1968. Andrew Young and civil rights activists waged a dangerous fight and many paid a heavy price. And after making those comments about Black Lives Matter activists, Andrew Young has now said that he is sorry, that he was wrong and that his granddaughter was ashamed.
Today, activists have continued to fight for what they perceive as continued injustice.
They are fighting to change policing tactics and to battle a system that they believe is broken.
Black Lives Matter was actually born out of the understanding of this one statistic: according to the National Safety Council, black males are 21 times more likely to be shot, maimed, or killed at the hands of police than any other racial group.
That is what these activists are working to change. To criticize them without having walked with them, talked with them or listened to what they are fighting for is simply unfair.
That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about it on Twitter.