First and foremost, I want to acknowledge that the movement has been especially positive for people of color as well as everyone who has taken the time to listen. Even the request from the Inlander to receive personal accounts is another example of the great strides people are taking to increase dialogue and awareness regarding this topic.
Unfortunately, we must maintain a watchful eye towards the issues of race, racism, police brutality, equality, etc., as those issues will not be addressed quickly. We must do what we can daily to make sure the voices of those asking for support are not drowned out by the other large issues that face our society today. For me, as a mixed Black-White man growing up in Spokane, I was somewhat insulated from a lot of the harsh realities that other Black men have had to face as they grew up. My father is an attorney and he and my mother have done an excellent job educating us to treat everyone with dignity and respect. I am thankful to this day for their teachings and the opportunity they provided my brothers and I to grow up in an area and school district that doesn't suffer as much from these issues in a visible way.
It was when I came into adulthood and began my travels and experiences to other parts of the country that I have been subject to the more glaring discrimination that exists in the world. I have been called the N-word plenty of times and each time I have felt that people have used it as a last resort in an argument or conversation to put you down and make you feel less than, more so than being a true statement of hatred. I do not condone the use of the word whatsoever, but I do want to highlight the fact that for the majority of the times I have been called that word my friends, White and Black, have rallied to support me and make sure that I am alright.
The issue today in my opinion is the narrative that as people of color gain ground, so to speak, White folks especially have treated it as if they are losing ground. I do not find this argument compelling as the consistent message that movements such as the Black Lives Matter preach is simply equality. Only those who wish to see things remain the same so that they may be insulated from punishment or true consequences for their ignorance will use this tactic, but it still hurts to see people you respect and admire disingenuously support your cause while at the same time being worried that they will be "canceled" if they make incendiary remarks on this issue. I believe if this is something that people are worried about, then they must embark on a journey of enlightenment to try to understand that equality for all will make everything in our society better as a whole.
I would also like to point out that as a Black man, I also have to make sure I am not close-minded in my approach to civil rights, meaning I have a responsibility to make sure that I am inclusive of all groups who are subject to discrimination, including but not limited to: LGBTQ issues, women's empowerment issues and trans rights, to name a few. Doing so is the only way all of our groups will be heard in the way they deserve. Arguments against all of the groups named are always based on a lack of understanding and ignorance. However, the best thing about ignorance is that it can always be changed through education — something I believe to be the salvation for most of the issues I have highlighted.
A quote that often resonates for me is one made by the great Frederick Douglass: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground." This quote is especially pertinent when I hear friends and family alike cast dispersion on the efforts of minority groups and cling on to old traditions that have been rooted in oppression. The systems in place need a complete makeover from the ground up and small patches of progress only serve to incrementally benefit the cause while silently maintaining the status quo.
Ultimately, a lot of work is still left to do, but I am confident that through the education of new generations, history has also taught us that with each passing of the torch, things continue to get better. ♦
Mason Maxey, the son of Bevan and Martine Maxey, attended Ferris High School and the University of Washington, where he earned a degree in physiology. He graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in spring 2020. He plans to join Maxey Law Offices in Spokane and practice family and criminal defense law.