As a mixed American, I feel I have a lot to say about the outrage from George Floyd’s murder. Some good things, some things that people might not agree with, and even some things that could offend. This day in age, it’s hard not to offend someone, but the best course of action is to respect a different opinion and move on.

The U.S. is the home of the free, not the home of the peaceful, and not the home of the fair. In my mind, that means anyone and everyone has a right to share their opinion with whomever will listen, as long as they remain law abiding. Even the hatred of racism should have a safe place to continue within our country, because people should have the freedom to believe what they want. If the goal of the BLM movement is to eliminate racism in our country, they might find that the opposing side has a similar goal.

Every coin, every story, every war has opposing sides, and when we’re dealing with such a large amount of opinions and emotions, neither side will completely eliminate the other. These “warring” factions, Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter, or the people vs. the government, should not be there to derail or impede the other side. These groups should exist to empower and educate.

The thirteenth amendment technically ended slavery, but what it really did is change the terms in which a person can be enslaved, from any person of color, to any criminal. Before I was born, there were major shifts in the economy of this country, from the ending of slavery to yellow journalism, to the war on drugs, and in my 30 years of living, I have felt the effects and seen the outcome of all of that.

I’ve been jailed for the smallest offenses, which I believe were racially motivated. Then, while in jail, I had very little say in what I ate or when I slept. It’s not a communion, it’s a jail. I’ve had a gun pulled on me three times in my life, which is pretty high I’d think for a 30-year-old, and every time it was by a police officer. While I think the media would have everyone believe you’re more likely to be held at gunpoint by a drug dealer or drug user than an officer of the law.

Being mixed, I was the center of a lot of discrimination. When I was younger, there was a stigma for dating outside of your race, and as a child ,sometimes you don’t understand the rules, but you just go along with them. Well, I had to constantly prove myself worthy of whichever race of woman I was courting. By being more “book smart” or more “street smart.” This was not the case 100% of the time, but I was very used to it by the time I grew up.

Also, friendships are much different. Growing up in Minneapolis, I had predominately black friends and they all considered me “the white boy.” I knew that, because they all openly called me that. And even if it had some negative connotation, it would never amount to the raw hatred I’ve felt from actual racist people.

Now, as an adult, I have accepted that both my white friends and my black friends treat me different, selectively. So, if my white friends have a “black” question or if my black friends have a “white” question, I’m the guy they’ll ask.

Our country has flaws, and if we continue to let people exploit these flaws, we will never get out of the circle of injustices we’ve seen for the last few hundred years. In the end, I hope I’ve educated the readers of this article to be a better person of any race. Race is not a choice and it’s not a handicap or an advantage. The best thing to do for any group of people is to learn for themselves and then re-educate the people around them. Ask yourself, how did my country get this way? 

If you don’t know the following terms, or people, please research them and educate yourself as well:

Qualified Immunity (legal doctrine that protects government officials)

Southern Strategy (a political tactic used during the Nixon admin)

Hypersegregation (the new form of segregation)

Yellow Journalism (type of literature that spread fear and hate)

Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, and Fred Hampton. These 3 people were heavily involved in the creation of the BPP (Black Panther Party). If you don’t know the story of the rise and fall of the BPP, find out. The black community has never had such a powerful group before or since the BPP, for a reason.

This opinion piece was written by LAWA member, Matt Black.

It was written upon our request, and in response to how we, as a small central Minnesota nonprofit organization, can help to highlight diversity and support our membership more fully. 


Lakes Area Writers Alliance is a writers group in Brainerd, Minnesota that offers support, encouragement, and critique to members and visitors to their monthly meetings.


Bev Abear · June 29, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Well said, Matt. Interesting about your friends calling you the white guy. I say interesting because I was thinking the other day that I don’t have any black friends. Then I realized we have 3 black members in our small church congregation! I just never think of them as black. They’re just who they are: great Christian friends of varying darker skin tones. I don’t know if this is the right attitude to have exactly. Maybe I should think of better ways I could interact with them such as taking their background struggles into account more. What do you think? In some ways I think I’m more eager to befriend someone of color, different cultures, etc. I want to put them at ease, etc. Do you feel this is helpful? Anyway, God bless you and your family Matt!

Matt Black · June 30, 2020 at 11:21 am

Id say you never want to approach an interaction based on skin color, and you should never assume all black men or black women come from struggles, or even the same struggle.
As Im sure you know, culture is different than skin color. Culture doesn’t determine your skin color, nor does your skin color determine your culture. Being interested in a different culture because its new to you is normal. Being interested based on skin color is bad, but since you have the freedom to think whatever you’d like to think, do just that, think it. If your goal is to befriend, it helps never to mention color. Usually the first party to mention color only shows to other parties that color is noticed and taken into account.
Im unsure what or who you want to put at ease, or at ease of what. So Im unsure if its helpful.
Thanks Bev for your comment and feedback. Its nice to share opinions with people that are genuinely interested.

Laurie Lawhon · October 26, 2020 at 5:33 pm

Bravo, what a wonderful piece of writing! I’m mixed too. Thanks for the laughs but most importantly, the seriousness too. The culture part is what you got right. For me as a woman, being able to cook my family’s meals, like Grandma did… that’s when the color completely goes away. Otherwise, people are as ignorant as they’ve been taught to be, or choose to remain. I was a young woman when Angela Davis & the BPP was around. I even voted for her in at least one national election, if not two. Protest votes, ya know? The hyper word is the only ‘new’ to me. I’ll be looking it up though. I’m older & you’d think it would be going away… reality check on one’s mortality? But no, being insensitive & a lack of just plain respect… doesn’t seem to fade much as we age. That’s the disappointment for me. Decades, so many people have died for this, and it’s still around. It just hides itself a little better, but the hate is there. When I was young, all them protests I sat in/went to. You just knew it was gonna be so different for our children. But people are still dying & just yesterday I had to, as you say… shrug off another ignorant remark. Well I have a new word to look up. I just wanted you to know, you spoke as if my shadow. That is the most wonderful piece of writing I have enjoyed in a long time. You have certainly moved me, your audience. Thanks for being real. Maybe someday, huh?

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