Dear White People…
A different way to look at Black Lives Matter.
Let me speak to my fellow white people about the Black Lives Matter movement.
I was raised in a small town in Oregon where the diverseness of our high school were the two Korean girls that were adopted, (I had a crush on one of them). In the past, I’ve not been a progressive or a liberal on most subjects. I have voted conservative most of my life. So please listen to me when I say this.
There are a lot of white people missing the point about the Black Lives Matter movement.
There are many of us spending a great deal of time saying “All Lives Matter”, or “Blue Lives Matter” and generally racially mansplaining to black people that it’s all in their heads and that police brutality is not a real issue.
This is quite possibly the worst way to approach this.
Do this with me. Think back to the worst times of your life. Were there ever times in your life when people did not take you seriously? Were there ever times when people told you to settle down and quit overreacting? Were there ever times where people told you that you had no right to feel the way that you did? I don’t know about you, but those are some of the darkest times in my life. Not only did it sting to be told I was wrong to feel the way I did, it left me feeling alone, misunderstood and angry at the world.
The question of whether blacks are being treated differently by the police is very important, but just as important is the fact that there is a large segment of our society that has a perception that they do not belong; there are people in our country who do not trust the police to protect them, and many of us are just saying they don’t know what they are talking about and ignoring it.
The phrase “Black lives matter” is not stating their lives are extra special, worth more than white lives or blue lives, but it is crying out that they believe their lives are not being treated as equally important as the rest of us. Responding with “All Lives Matter”, means we totally don’t get it or worse yet, we believe everything is just fine and black people are just blowing things out of proportion.
The “All Lives Matter” responses along with some law enforcement agencies either not policing themselves or making incredibly bad decisions in responding to the public outcry is what is leading to violence from unbalanced people. When a group of people feel ignored and oppressed by the people that should be protecting them, when hopelessness becomes entrenched in your world outlook, it becomes difficult to avoid a descent into violence.
If I as a blue eyed blonde haired big galoot of a white man, who the last time I was pulled over for speeding received a warning, woke up one morning to see media coverage of police shooting down people that looked just like me, how would I react? If the months and years went by and it became a normal thing to hear reports of people like me dying in the streets, how would that affect me? I would be angry, stressed out and spend my day looking over my shoulder hoping I didn’t catch the attention of law enforcement. I’d be asking myself how I ended up in a place like this.
Many of us were raised with those ideals that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, that it’s the best country in the world where everyone is treated equal and you can be anything you want to be through hard work and determination. Those ideals led many of us to work hard and be productive members of society. If we had been raised to not trust the government and to be careful because the police were not to be trusted and could kill us, how would that affect us? If we saw things causing us to believe that the system is not fair and that equality is a myth, how would we respond?
The reason that many people respond with “all lives matter” is because they still want to believe those ideals even though there are things happening to our fellow citizens that are contrary to the ideals of America. They want to ignore events that are contrary to their dream of a just and free America. If we truly believed in that dream of a just America, enforcing those beliefs is the best way to make it so. It is the way that most resembles the founding of our country-resisting unfair treatment of our countrymen. In this situation, we need to force our elected officials to take it seriously when a large segment of society fears those who are supposed to be protecting them.
Saying “Black Lives Matter”, is as patriotic as “We hold this truth to be self-evident that all men are created equal…” It’s the same idea, only it specifies one of the parties of men that are equal to all of the others.
If we can’t say that “Black Lives Matter” without adding a “but” at the end, without adding some type of disclaimer to it…we need to ask ourselves why.