Sticking Up for Those in Chatham Who Kneel for George Floyd

Can only black people lead a march in support of African-American interests?

It seems like a bizarre, if not offensive, question.

But consider: A proposed “Unity March” march Saturday in Chatham in support of George Floyd has been cancelled at the urging of the Morristown chapter of Black Lives Matter. Here is the group’s relevant Facebook post:

“Please know that Black Lives Matter Morristown recognizes that our allies are coming from a compassionate place, however, in the absence of black leadership, this may produce more harm than good. We want to ensure that no further trauma is created from an event that is not led by black people, as the message that needs to be conveyed is not misinterpreted or lost.”

This is the type of statement that may cause some to scratch their heads. All the marches and protests across the state and nation are designed to denounce racism and bias and to foster unity among all
people. So, as long as all attendees support that message, why is their race, or for that matter, ethnic background, any concern at all?

Let’s recall that in the 1960s blacks were not alone in marching for civil rights. Many whites joined the crusade as well, some of whom paid with their lives.

Sources say the Chatham event was being independently planned by a borough woman without the input of Black Lives Matter.

The Facebook post says that the “Chatham community has an ugly history of racism and remains a segregated community.”

I have more than a passing knowledge of “the Chathams,” having covered the borough and township years ago when I was with the Morristown Daily Record. I can not speak to overt acts of racism, but like many suburbs, the Chathams traditionally have been very white.

So, if someone wants to bring a march/protest highlighting black concerns into a predominately white community, isn’t that a good thing?

Not all agree.

Within the Facebook post is a suggestion for a “teach-in.” This apparently is a program that would stress “education, truth and reconciliation.”

The post adds that, “Then and only then, can Chatham move toward reform, and after that, unity.”

And perhaps even a march.

Interestingly, this notion that only African-Americans should lead protests condemning racial bias has surfaced before in Morris County.

As participants were lining up to begin a march in Parsippany on Tuesday night, an organizer suggested that only black people lead the march. The logic was that blacks were “relatives” of Floyd, the man
for whom the march was being held.

This really didn’t go over well. There was some spirited back and forth, and in the end most simply ignored the call to separate.

But no one will get a chance to ignore anythng in Chatham.

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  • Sarah Viola

    the reason people are wary of white people leading protests is because FALSE INFORMATION may be spread. white people innately CANNOT understand black struggles because we AREN’T BLACK. This is a common quote: our duty as white people is not to speak over black people, but to elevate their voices. Us white people holding a rally is NOT NECESSARY, especially when specifically advised otherwise by the black community. literally the entire purpose of the movement is to amplify black voices, and those voices are saying, “shut it down.” so shut it down! this is not showing support. if you want to show support, don’t be so difficult and find a protest in the area that is RUN BY THE BLACK COMMUNITY. “standing up for those standing up for george floyd” standing up??? who are you standing up for? white people not being able to personally throw a rally? thats what you choose to stand up for right now? do you not see the irony within that? you are silencing your voice on the movement and highlighting the voice of some poor white women who were offended because they cant be party planners. If your intentions were good, you wouldn’t be taking the spotlight from the real issue. if your intentions were good, GO TO A NEARBY RALLY. there is literally a LIST ONLINE. I’m from chatham and made an account PURELY to leave this comment. This article is distasteful and petty, do better.

    • ivan

      the reason people are wary of white people leading protests is because FALSE INFORMATION may be spread. white people innately CANNOT understand black struggles because we AREN’T BLACK.
      __________
      Are you saying white people, BECAUSE they’re white, are not capable of having sympathy for black victims of police violence? This is a racist statement pure and simple. How do you fight racism if you, yourself, are a racist? This is hypocrisy at its best.

  • Sarah Viola

    once again, to reiterate, you are using your voice and presence online to highlight white women being upset that they cant throw a rally. Instead of highlighting the exact thing people are protesting about. Black people being killed by cops. white women cant throw party…. black people being killed by cops….. how about you highlight the latter instead of the former?

  • Chas

    Insider NJ is a boy’s club of sorts, a ghoulish “insider” hive of the good ol’ days and “common sense”. They embody most of what’s wrong with NJ politics.

  • ivan

    So only black people can march in support of Black Lives Matter. This right here is racism pure and simple. It appears to be justified because it’s racism in reverse. So just how does Black Lives Matter justify its cause and generate sympathy around the country when they themselves are racist?

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