Black Lives Matter – “This movement is long overdue”

By Bonita Reid Gardner
June 16, 2020

Of course all lives matter. The height of humanity, of all religious belief recognizes this to be true. The Black Lives Matter movement is not a movement to deny this ideal, but to realize it. As a black woman, with black sons, I join with voices across the globe to emphasize that this is not our reality.

My children must learn the reality that they are not considered as smart as others, that they will be viewed with suspicion, and that they will evoke discomfort from the time they are young children. My gentle son who likened humidity at the age of seven to being wrapped in a warm blanket would be laughingly told that same year by a classmate that he could have been that other child’s slave. Another classmate would ask him why blacks attend “their” school. As if this relatively recent immigrant had greater rights than my child whose ancestors helped build this country. And in response to these incidents, the principal would suggest to me that I look into social groups to help build my son’s self-esteem, as if the problem was ours to fix. Because to put the responsibility on them to examine and confront themselves might make those other families uncomfortable.

In college, at the University of Miami, this same son would black out from dehydration while riding his bike and awake to eight police officers surrounding him. They would spread eagle and search him. Despite finding nothing but a student id, not one would apologize. No one would ask if he was okay. They didn’t see my sensitive, bright son who in high school refused to accept payment for tutoring middle schoolers in math. All they saw was a thug. So, yes, those words from our supposed leader sting.

I worked two jobs to put myself through college and law school. I worked as a law clerk for a federal appellate court judge. I worked as a federal prosecutor and a law professor. My husband worked through poverty to attend Harvard Business School. But at the end of many days, we are met with patronization and hostility. I once rode alone on an airplane from Michigan to Jacksonville seated across from a man who stared at me for the entire flight, gritting his teeth and murmuring to his partner, “I hate her”.

And before there is any temptation to “tsk, tsk” these incidents away, know that they are but a few examples. Try to put yourselves in my shoes. Don’t view me as an other with whom you can’t relate. Imagine your elementary school-aged child being asked whether she has a tail. Imagine the accumulated hurt, fear and frustration. And imagine that you might even feel anger.

This movement is long overdue. Many of us are very tired, as well as angry. But I am deeply faithful and believe with all my heart that we are held by a God who loves us beyond our imagination. And Who is patient with us. Who will heal us, if we let Him. But the road to recovery means everybody has to share the discomfort that has been borne by people like me for far too long.

Bio:  Bonita Reid Gardner and her husband Harold have been residents of Fernandina Beach for five years. To be closer to their family, they still have a home in Michigan where they stay during the summer and fall.  For more than twenty years, Bonita practiced law in Michigan, with eight years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  She taught at the University of Detroit Law School for the last eight years of her legal career.
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Michael Spicer
Michael Spicer (@guest_57908)
3 years ago

Thank you for sharing your story, Mrs. Gardner. It is moving and meaningful to be able to read some of your experiences in this so-called land of the free. The levels of ignorance and fear in our society are staggering. I hope the momentum of the current movement continues and we begin to see real change and understanding. But as a child of the 50/60’s, I also know the lessons from our history of slavery are far from being understood or addressed.

bob carter
bob carter (@guest_57913)
3 years ago

All lives matter. To say otherwise is racism at it core. To see me as black or white is racist. To mention that I am black or white is racist.

MLK said it was the character, not the color.

Black Lives Matter is a political tool. I will support anyone that judges me on character and not color. I don’t need to be shamed, bullied, or forced.

I prefer to make my own decisions.

Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
3 years ago
Reply to  bob carter

For sure, all lives matter. But when one particular group of people, based solely on the color of their skin, has had to endure hundreds of years of discrimination and brutality, we must address this iniquity immediately. If you have one sick child, do you not help that child heal because “all my children matter”?

Richard Norman Kurpiers
Richard Norman Kurpiers (@guest_57926)
3 years ago
Reply to  bob carter

All cancers matter. But do we denigrate the National Breast Cancer Foundation for their fund-raising goals and awareness efforts?

Pro-black doesn’t mean anti-white. It’s too bad some feel so threatened as to believe it does.

P.S. You wished to be judged on character instead of color. I believe that’s called White Privilege. Blacks too want to be judged on character and not color. Hence the Black Lives Matter organization.

Donna Paz Kaufman
Donna Paz Kaufman(@dpazpazbookbiz-com)
3 years ago

Bonita, thank you for sharing your personal experience. Our country can only heal and change at its core if people are able to tell their stories and others listen. It’s time we show our true human potential for “life, liberty, and happiness for all.”

Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
3 years ago

White people must recognize that they (we, including myself) have benefited from the discrimination and terror heaped upon people of color, especially blacks. We must get out of our personal anecdotal mode (“I knew a black man who overcame his poverty…”) and look at the research, the statistics, and also listen to the experiences of people of color. And progressive-minded people must get political: support progressive candidates, run for office, talk to legislators, and of course, vote.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott(@dave-l)
3 years ago

Thank you for sharing your story. One comment i would make to the start of your second paragraph is “the reality that they are not considered BY SOME as smart as others, that they will be viewed BY SOME with suspicion, and that they will evoke discomfort from the time they are young children” DUE TO ACTIONS AND EXPRESSIONS BY SOME. There is no question there is hatred BY SOME of others not like themselves whether the color of their skin, gender or sexual orientation. We see those instances far too often in the headlines and sometimes witness it in our daily lives. Nearly everyone has some level of prejudice or bias in their thoughts and actions. One could say you show a level of prejudice in your own words implying that ALL non-black people will treat and view your children in a negative way or judge that your life is not as important as another.

Most of us have experienced levels of prejudice in our lives. Fortunately, wise people like yourselves overcome the prejudice of others and succeed; but I don’t need to feel the same discomfort you felt in the same way you did, as I have felt similar levels of discomfort in other ways. I don’t know that I felt anger so much as frustration and confusion in trying to understand why someone would treat someone else in such a way.

There certainly is the need for a healing but let’s take the energy and use it in positive ways to educate. To work towards the future with the past in our memories but not controlling our present. As the song I learned as a little one in church goes, “Jesus died for all the children, All the children of the world, Red and yellow, Black and white, They are precious in His sight…” Our Lord and Savior faced the ultimate prejudice and hatred, but let us remember one of His greatest commandments as told in each of the Gospels was “Love your neighbor as yourself”. A lofty goal but one to which we ALL should strive.

Maya LoCastro
Maya LoCastro (@guest_57919)
3 years ago

I personally know Bonita, and she is beautiful inside and out. You can feel the pain and frustration in her well written essay, which was both enlightening and painful to read.

Until recently, I’d never thought about white silence. I’m now making a point to visibly show my support for the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve been surprised by the relief and gratitude I get for simply smiling and waving, for example, at someone wearing a Black Lives Matter Tshirt. But that’s the point about white silence. No one can read minds. The status quo is not okay and nothing changes until lots of people speak up and make clear that the majority of us insist that the status quo change.

Trudie Richards
Trudie Richards (@guest_57920)
3 years ago

Thank you, Bonita, for sharing. I am ashamed. Black Lives Matter!

Nadine Vaughan D’Ardenne
Nadine Vaughan D’Ardenne (@guest_57922)
3 years ago

Bonita Reid Gardner,

I am so glad you came to Fernandina Beach to live. I would love to get to know you. The way you speak on the subject of racism and why Black Lives Matter, is with eloquence, wisdom, and grace. My entire life, I too have spoken out for the rights of people who have been marginalized (and worse), but as a white woman, I did not have to bear the harsh treatment borne by my darker brothers and sisters.

Because of my father’s example, I decided early in life, I did not want to contribute to the problem, and later, because my children were brought up to share my feelings about humanity, they have also become part of the solution.

So what makes people part of the problem? I believe it is when people, who should know better, continue to try to fit into a culture that has been wearing blinders for far to long. Being slow to change is not a virtue… it is a disability. Please know that I support you 100% in your efforts to bring about change. In the 1960s, as racial tensions flared, I took people to the polls to vote. As a psychologist and college professor, for decades. I did the work. Now that I’m retired, I continue this sacred duty through my writing. For what it’s worth, please always know…I’ve got your back.

Nadine Vaughan D’Ardenne

Mary Libby
Mary Libby (@guest_57923)
3 years ago

Excellent editorial. Thank you for speaking out. This is what we need, to be bombarded with life stories, again and again, and just maybe people will start to understand.

Nelson Reid
Nelson Reid (@guest_57925)
3 years ago

This government has created this condition intentionally. Most Americans are not aware that the word slave derived from Slav and during the Middle Ages blacks ruled the world.

All Europeans were considered slaves to the Arabs/Moors. There are recorded in books from the Middle Ages accounts of herds of white slaves being marched from France to Spain by their black rulers.

i have references to books from the 8th century to corroborate everything I just wrote.

The ruling class is very aware of these things.

They have no intention of real change.

Holly Graham
Holly Graham (@guest_57939)
3 years ago

Dear Bonita, thank you for sharing this. It is so important for all of us to stay awake. We will chat soon, and Aubrey had similar experiences his 1st grade year. His 1st grade teacher trying to fail him in math, without providing proper notification that he was failing. And how does a 1st grader recieve a C in math, at the time progress reports are distributed, and parents recieve no notification his grade is slipping? Myself and Khary were at the school 6 times, at least, within the 1st 9 weeks of his 1st grade year. This is an example of how some try extremely hard to keep us down. Learning comes within the home. As much as I hate those teachers that tried to play us, it was a learning example.