Black Lives Matter, Version 20.21
I’ve been watching way too much television since COVID hit.
Lately, it’s been some cheesy but charming Netflix show called The Good Place, where satanic hell architect Ted Danson experiments with new kinds of torture for people who end up in hell. He provides real human interactions and experiences to show how they can be far worse than enduring needles, fire or beatings. He makes the newly deceased humans think they are in “the good place,” in other words heaven, with all the beautiful adornments and decorations; when in reality they are in the bad place, hell.
Now back to that good place called America.
On January 4, 2020, a mere four days into the new year, I reflected as Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested in Washington, D.C. for burning a Black Lives Matter flag he allegedly stole from all places, a Black church.
I mean, it must be so offensive for other people to proclaim that their lives matter. I can see how that might be so disturbing to someone. Imagine how detrimental that could be to a white man’s life to simply hear and address the pain of someone who experiences things differently.
Can we stop and think how harmful it would be to white folks if they found out that Black men get harassed more during traffic stops than any other group? Could you please just hold on a second and understand how devastating it would be to a white person to find out that Black folks get passed over for jobs at higher rates when their resumes have “Black sounding” names? Imagine how it could send a white person into a tailspin if they found out that Black people were denied credit far more than their white counterparts with the same income and debt.
I don’t know how any white person could deal with learning that Black men and women are incarcerated with much harsher sentences than their white counterparts convicted of the same crimes. The thought of this just makes my white skin shudder.
How devastating it must be to a white person’s self-esteem to learn that people call the cops on innocent Black men and women regularly when the same doesn’t happen to white folks.
What would happen to so many white folks upon learning that companies pollute closer to Black neighborhoods than white suburbia. I mean, how could white folks even continue going home to their kids knowing this information? Almost makes a white neighborhood polluted just thinking about it.
I can understand how angry it must make some white people feel to know that Black kids don’t get called on in school as much as their white counterparts. Or how their parents don’t get promoted in jobs as much. Or how infuriating it must be to find out that a way higher percentage of Black kids don’t have access to proper nutrition.
Oh, my fellow poor white people. I get why the notion Black folks asking for their lives to once and for all matter is so hurtful to you. How are you expected to go on with your daily lives if others’ lives matter the same as yours? I understand why you want those BLM flags torn down and incinerated.
But for 2021, let’s try something radical on for size. How about we just listen to what bothers or challenges each of us? What roadblocks we face. What experiences each of us endure. What stumbling blocks we’ve had to overcome. Let’s find a way to just hear each other’s pain. To stop invalidating our brothers and sisters’ very existence.
They actually invented a word for all this. Are you sitting down? It’s called empathy.
In the words of Donald J. Trump when he finally was pressured to tell his insurgent supporters to leave the U.S. Capitol: “You’re very special… I know how you feel.”
Heed the words of our almost former president and try to discover how Black folks feel. You might learn something.
Maybe then this America we call The Good Place will no longer just be The Bad Place in disguise for people of color.
Jeffrey Kass is an award-winning author, diversity trainer, lawyer, speaker and thought leader on race and society. He is one of medium.com’s top fifty writers on racism. His newest book, The Rona Diaries, journals through these COVID and racism viruses. Dr. Cornel West called the book “wise and witty.” Jeffrey can be reached at jeffreykassglobal.com.