In “A Tough Weekend for Black Lives Matter,” I wrote about the members of the social justice movement who interrupted a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle, drawing some boos from the crowd and ultimately causing the cancellation of the presidential candidate’s speech. My article posited that although police reform is a just and vital cause that ought to be pursued with urgency, the activists’ treatment of Sanders was a strategic mistake, especially given that his long-shot campaign aligns much better with the demands of Black Lives Matter than Hillary Clinton’s ever will.
A reader, Martha Tesema, wrote a particularly thoughtful dissent. “As a young, black female who lives in Seattle,” she began, “I wanted to share my perspective because it’s likely that you haven’t heard directly from a point of view like mine before.” We agreed that journalists are, as she put it, “gatekeepers of different perspectives,” and she consented to an email interview in which we would attempt to set forth her perspective on Black Lives Matter and flesh out why it is that the two of us disagree. She supports the activist movement but is not affiliated with it herself.
This version has been lightly edited for clarity.
Conor Friedersdorf: Martha, you wrote that far from thinking that Black Lives Matter had a tough weekend, you were celebrating its action in Seattle. What’s your view of that day?
Martha Tesema: Thanks for asking about my perspective. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the protest. But I’ve been celebrating what Marissa Janae Johnson and Mara Jacqueline Willaford did. As a black woman in this city, I think it was incredibly brave.