Black Lives Matter 101

Today we’re going to have a lesson on why saying “all lives matter” does not help anyone.

We live in a world in which being white is the standard. The standard for beauty, social acceptance, for getting ahead in life, for generally being treated with fairness and respect, etc.

We are not properly taught in school the injustices black people face. Yes, you know about slavery and civil rights on a basic level, but much like many of the things we learned, we were just trying to pass a test and not giving much thought to the real situations at hand. “We’re integrated now! No one is burning flags in yards anymore!”. Life would be amazing if it were just that simple.

One of my first memories is of being called a nigger around age 6. I was at a water park in a neighborhood I lived in with everyone else. My parents made a comparable income to anyone else. We had a nice home, cars, and I never had to do without. We lived in a predominantly white area and at that age I didn’t see much difference beyond having black Barbies instead of white ones. She was still just as beautiful in my eyes as the white one. I don’t recall having ever heard that word before, and it was said to me by a girl around my age and by all estimation no different than me. But it didn’t feel good and I immediately felt lesser than.

Not too long after that I was told at a party that I would probably get ahead in life because my name bore no racial signifier and that I “sounded white” on the phone to potential employers. Again, I was confused but deep down knew there was something wrong about that.

Throughout the years I was called “the black girl” or my hair was touched with wonderment, or told I was an Oreo or some form of being different. Guys don’t want to date a girl that is “different”. “Why would you tan when you’re dark enough?” You get the idea that people sense you’re…not a nigger, you’d never say that, but “ghetto”, “hood”, “angry” in a way that is different from the so-called standard. You’re not the girl with long hair or freckles. You are black and that’s all you get.

In high school I brought pictures of my ancestors to history class. I passed them around and heard someone call my grandmother a niglet. I was furious but beyond snatching the picture away I did nothing. I was surrounded by white people - they wouldn’t get it, I thought.

So despite me living amongst everyone else, doing the same things things having the same opportunities, I knew I was not the same. Because I was not the standard. And if anything goes wrong it’s the fault of the race for not living up to the standards put in place that we’re told we’ll never live up to because I dunno, we’re brown?

And as a side note PLEASE stop using the term “black on black crime”. Black people don’t kill black people for being black. White people kill white people all the time and no one says anything.

This is why black lives matter is necessary. Because many do not believe we could ever live up to the standards set in place. White lives have mattered every second of every day. They still do, and they should. Because we’re all humans. But black people are constantly being told we’re lesser than. It’s not enough that we’re not getting hanged anymore (but tell that to Sandra Bland). It’s the constant chipping away by small comments being made every day. By getting nervous when you see a black man in the street when you’re alone. By saying someone is “ghetto” when they live down the street from you. By asking why we can’t just comply and do better. Listen. Be the standard.

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