Public Comment

What Black Lives Matter Means To Me

Jack Bragen
Saturday June 27, 2020 - 12:17:00 PM

The Black Lives Matter movement, in my perception, is equivalent to human lives matter. The concept that we need to create a black lives movement is indicative of how infantile and improperly developed people's and police officers' minds are. It should be considered a remedial step, and not an advanced step forward for the human species. 

I wrote an email to President Obama when he was elected--there are infinitesimal chances that it made its way to his eyes, because of how many letters and emails must have come his way. I said, "We don't need a black President, we need a great President." By this I meant that President Obama in my perception is not a black President, he is a President. And, to me, Obama's performance as our leader was better than any I have seen in my lifetime. I believe Obama did a better job than Bill Clinton, who was also excellent. Mr. Clinton was President during a time of fewer challenges and difficulties. Thus, less was demanded of him. 

Additionally, the Republicans could not find any basis on which to impeach Obama, or to assault his reputation. This, by itself is an accomplishment. The worst thing I've seen Obama do was to smoke at Disneyland. And he was out of public office by then. 

A point that should be remembered is this: dark skin color is a genetic trait, it indicates that your ancestry is not European, and it does not say anything else about a person. Skin color doesn't mean anything. 

Thus, when we say "Black Lives Matter" it means human life matters. If we can't disband hate groups and fix people's attitudes of hate, we are doomed as a species. When we see a "black person" we are seeing a person. There should be no distinction. 

There are differences in culture based on people's ancestry and on their upbringing. But when we see a black, Latino, Asian, or other person on the street whom we have never seen before, we cannot assume anything about that person. We cannot assume that a person is nice or mean, good or bad, intelligent, or unintelligent, based on skin color. 

I've been taken for an idiot based on appearance. I don't know where this comes from. I am Caucasian with Jewish ancestry. I'm big in the upper body and I have a gut. I frequently sport facial hair. I don't dress spectacularly. Does that make me the stupid person many assume I am? I have difficulty expressing myself verbally in some pressured situations, especially in putting my best foot forward. It is a lot easier to tell you how I feel and what I think when I am writing, because I am not being pressured by anything. 

As a mentally ill person and as a person people mistakenly take for a fool, I might to a small extent understand what black people must face. But I might not understand. I think we people of European descent should try to educate ourselves more about the difficulties that many black people experience. 

I've gone to two different black churches. The first was in the late 1980's in the Antioch area and it was during an event where Jews from either a temple or from the Jewish Community Center were doing an exchange with that black church. (I recognized, sitting in a row in front of me, the psychiatrist who first branded me with my schizophrenic diagnosis.) In another instance, I had a friend who lived in Oakland, and I went with her to a church there during a commemoration for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And I do know that it is important to show respect. 

I do know also that I've heard too many white racists expressing uninformed opinions, and I would rather see white people recover from this dumb sickness. 

Jack Bragen is author of "Schizophrenia: My 35-Year Battle: Vignettes of Hardship and Persistence."