Houston's Black Lives Matter Remains Unconvinced of NAACP's Support

Ashton P. Woods of Black Lives Matter: Houston speaks out against the white supremacists' rally alongside NAACP - Houston President Dr. James Douglas, left, and U.S. Congressman Al Green.EXPAND
Ashton P. Woods of Black Lives Matter: Houston speaks out against the white supremacists' rally alongside NAACP - Houston President Dr. James Douglas, left, and U.S. Congressman Al Green.
Meagan Flynn

Other than by making a silly argument, the white supremacists made a mistake when they showed up on the doorstep of the NAACP on Sunday to protest the organization's failure to denounce Black Lives Matter and hold "their people" accountable: The NAACP has pretty much no relationship with the Black Lives Matter movement, according to various activists the Houston Press spoke with.

In fact, Black Lives Matter activists are more concerned that they do not have the full support of the NAACP, group members said yesterday and several times in the past.

On Sunday, about a dozen protestors came out to the NAACP Houston headquarters to chant "White Lives Matter" and show their true Confederate-loving colors. The following day, NAACP responded at a press conference that Black Lives Matter: Houston was invited to speak at, too. But just before BLM: Houston organizer Ashton P. Woods politely stood on the steps of the NAACP headquarters in solidarity with NAACP leaders, Woods was actually busy writing a blog post titled "Who Does The Houston NAACP Really Represent?" 

The short answer: Not Black Lives Matter.

Woods criticized the NAACP for blasting out an email about the White Lives Matter rally in which the NAACP asked for donations; Woods wrote: "If you want to raise money off of the backs of activists that you generally claim to have no association with, make sure you donate to those on the ground, doing actual work!"

It is not the first time Black Lives Matter activists in Houston have had some beef with the local NAACP chapter. In February, BLM and other organizations (plus some individual angry members of the NAACP) protested the NAACP's decision to give Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson an award for her marijuana diversion program, claiming Anderson did not deserve praise since Harris County consistently arrests and jails minorities at a starkly disproportionate rate compared to white people. Black Lives Matter: Houston activist Shere Dore also told us that the NAACP has failed to echo BLM's demands for the end to police brutality, and has remained mum following police's shooting deaths of unarmed young black men such as Jordan Baker.

"There's been absolutely no support where it concerns police brutality," Dore said. "Now we're screaming Black Lives Matter, but we can't seem to get the NAACP to work with us. So that's what's really disturbing at this point."

At the press conference, the Houston Press asked NAACP - Houston President Dr. James Douglas to clarify the organization's relationship with Black Lives Matter: Houston. We asked if NAACP fully supported the movement, and Douglas gave us what Dore found to be a "vague" answer.

"We've always been in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. We disagree with the idea that this is a violent movement, that this is a racist movement. I don't know if you've seen Black Lives Matter's protests, but all the people at those protests are not African-American. There's been whites, there's been Hispanics, there's been Asians. So Black Lives Matter has been a multi-racial, multi-cultural movement."

Woods and Dore exchanged glances, unconvinced the NAACP fully had its back, they told the Press afterward. 

Still, even though Dore made a sign that spoke out against the NAACP's tenuous relationship with Black Lives Matter, she said holding it up didn't feel right. Because here, at least, everyone agreed on one thing: Racism and ignorance are gross. 

Make America Great Again.EXPAND
Make America Great Again.
Tex Kerschen

On Sunday, the "White Lives Matter" protestors lined up outside the NAACP headquarters boasting Confederate flags, assault rifles, white-supremacist signs, pro-Nazi Aryan Renaissance Society symbols and pro-Donald Trump apparel. One sign bore the Nazi-reminiscent "14 words": "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children," apparently because the group thinks that white people are under siege in America and have it so rough these days.

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The protestors told the empty NAACP building that it should be ashamed of itself for not "speaking out against the atrocities that organizations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-black organizations have caused," referring to the non-Black Lives Matter-affiliated shootings of police officers, also the "burning down of cities and things of that nature," as White Lives Matter member Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle Sunday.

"If they're going to be a civil rights organization and defend their people, they also need to hold their people accountable," he said.

Responding to the baseless protest, Douglas said at the Monday press conference: "While they criticized the NAACP for not denouncing a movement that has been productively bringing awareness to the racial disparity in this country, they themselves espouse racist positions."

Biko Gray, a Rice Ph.D. candidate and activist with the group Truth 2 Power, said his first reaction was to chuckle at rather than be offended by the White Lives Matter protest. He called the White Lives Matter rally "redundant."

"The interesting thing here is whiteness is normative in American society, so there's already an assumption that white lives matter," Gray said. "So the idea of 'preservation of white culture' is a logical fallacy, because from the point we begin elementary school, we're immersed in white culture — particularly white male culture. It seems senseless to me, because white lives have always mattered — it's structured this way in our educational system, our culture, in the way in which our identities are constructed."

U.S. Congressman Al Green described the protest similarly at the press conference, offering a firm reminder that, well, white people were not slaves, victims of Jim Crow-era segregation and did not have to fight for basic equality in a nationwide civil rights movement. So he, too, was not exactly sure what the white supremacists were complaining about. 

Another Black Lives Matter activist told us she didn't even want to comment about the White Lives Matter protestors, because she did not want to waste her breath on them.

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