#BlackLivesMatter Is Not Just A Trendy Hashtag

What can be said that hasn’t already been said?
Why contribute to the noise on social media?
No one is being heard. No one is listening.
I’m too white to understand the plight.
I grew up upper middle class. Who am I to pretend I understand?

All questions I told myself are valid.

Then my friend Osheta challenged a group I’m in, “Help me understand why you have an abundance of compassion for our brothers and sisters suffering in Africa but no so much for our African-American brothers and sisters suffering here.”

And I had to face what I knew to be true: I haven’t written about race because I am afraid.

Afraid of so many things.
Afraid that black people will think I’m too white.
Afraid of what my white friends will say.
Afraid that my police officer friends will misunderstand me.
Afraid for the opinions that will follow. (I prefer to stay neutral on controversial subjects.)
Afraid for how it will effect my brand. (I write to moms in suburbia, who are mostly white.)

So I will take the advice I give my children:

If you can’t beat fear, do it scared. 

So here I am. Writing scared.

Let’s begin.

I wish I didn’t have to preface this with saying that yes, all lives matter (which is just code for white lives matter) and blue lives matter. The reason that Black Lives Matter trumps these is because we already believe white lives matter and blue lives matter.

American history has always supported the fundamental belief that white people and police officers have value.

Saying that Black Lives Matter is NOT saying that no other lives have value.

It’s saying that we’ve put up with the bull crap long enough. And it’s time for black lives to matter as much as all lives. Black people aren’t trying to matter more than you. They’re trying to matter as much as you.
IMG_6945.JPG

If you tell yourself that every person in America is treated equally, you are wrong.
If you tell yourself you are colorblind, you are lying.
If you think racism doesn’t exist, please tell me more about this rock you’re living under.

I could reference study after study to prove racism is still very much alive.
I could show you how communities are purposely built to oppress black people.
I could show you statistics of black people overrepresented in prisons and underrepresented in colleges.

Instead, I will speak of personal experiences. These are not as difficult as police brutality and unjust murder, but they shed light on the systemic racism that we must acknowledge exists. And we must fight to change.

This weekend, some of my black friends and I were discussing traffic violations.

And one casually said, “The officer first asked if I had any weapons…” and continued as if that were totally normal.

Let me tell you the number of times I’ve been asked if I had any weapons: 0.
And guess which of us owns more guns?

Systemic racism says, “You are black. You probably have a gun. You are white. You are safe.”

Another time, a neighbor was moving. He said, “Don’t worry, I will be sure to find a buyer suitable for you.” Implying he hoped a white person would purchase his house.

(A neighbor suitable for me is one who doesn’t report me to the HOA for the number of infractions I violate daily.)

Systemic racism says, “Let’s keep our little white suburbs white.”

Racism will not be solved in a day. We’ve spent hundreds of years oppressing black people. It will take time to undo. Ending slavery and the Civil Rights Movement each served to move us in the right direction, but we still have so far to go.

Which is why I am compelled to speak up. Black people have been beating the drum that Black Lives Matter long before it became a hashtag. But they cannot do this alone.

It is time for white people to join the fight.

White people are the overwhelmingly majority race in America.
And as long as we let racism stand, it will stand.

I know that most white Americans are not racist.
But our silence is doing as much damage as the haters’ hate.
Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 1.13.27 PM.png

If this makes you uncomfortable, I am glad. It should.

2016 feels like it’s going to hell in a hand basket. This has been the worst year I can remember in my lifetime. But we do not have to be afraid. That which was meant for evil can be turned around for the good.

This is our Rosa Parks moment. This is the time where we can metaphorically take a stand and say, “NOT ON MY WATCH!”

It’s been a long day. I am tired of watching black men and women lose their lives at the hand of men who vowed to protect us.

(I will make the unnecessary disclaimer that somehow becomes necessary that I know most police are incredible people doing a very hard job, but that does not mean we do not hold those accountable who have seemingly misunderstood the oath they’ve taken.)

(Just as most doctors are good. But those who commit medical malpractice should pay.)
(Same goes for literally every profession.)

(The fact that I even need to explain this should be enough indication of the problem.)

As I was saying. It’s been a long day in American history, so to speak.
And our black brothers and sisters are tired of moving to the back of the bus.
They’re tired of being mistreated. Tired of not getting jobs they’re qualified for. Tired of being killed. Because they’re too black.

White people, I implore you to join the fight. At the risk of overusing the Rosa Parks metaphor, give your black friends your seat on the bus, and let them rest for a minute. Stand up and fight for them. They’ve been fighting their whole lives. And because I know they won’t actually take a rest, imagine what change will take place if we stand up and fight together.

And don’t let yourself believe you are only one person, and one person doesn’t change anything. History says otherwise.

If you’re new to this conversation and are questioning if it’s really as bad as they say, let me help you:

Do you remember what it felt like to go to the movies for the first time after the Aurora, Colorado shooting in the theater?

Do you remember what it felt like to send your kids to school the day after the massacre in Newton, Connecticut?

Do you remember flying for the first time following 9/11 and the eerie feeling of the onslaught of TSA agents?

Do you remember how hard it was to suppress your fear in the aftermath of those horrifying events?

Imagine living your life like that every single day. Imagine that a broken tail light could cost you your life. Imagine that your son playing with a toy gun at the park may not make it home today. Imagine praying every day that your husband, sons, and brothers would simply make it home alive. Because the color of their skin may determine otherwise.

This is the horrifying reality. And if you’re privileged enough to not experience it, congratulations on being white. But just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

It is happening. Every day. #BlackLivesMatter is not a trendy hashtag. It’s meant to rally together to bring the very necessary change we need.

If #BlackLivesMatter bothers you, I encourage you to ask yourself why.
If you didn’t feel the same outrage about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile as you did about the Dallas Police Officers who lost their lives, why? If All Lives Matter, then all lives should matter. Seven men lost their lives the same way: tragically and unnecessarily.

This is just the beginning of the conversation. There is so much more to be said. Awareness is a start, but it is certainly not the end. I do not pretend to have all of the answers, but I will not stop asking the questions.

Black Lives Matter.
Let them matter to you.

A place to begin: Concrete Ways To Be An Actual Ally To Black People.

You can’t change everything. But you can do something.

White America, it’s time to join the fight.

(Please allow me to make the disclaimer that I used a lot of “us” and “them” in this article. I did this as a means to make a point, not to further divide.)

(Also, I told you I don’t know everything. If I said anything that is ignorant or wrong, please advise me. My goal is to open the dialogue, but I know I will do that imperfectly.)

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “#BlackLivesMatter Is Not Just A Trendy Hashtag

  1. Great article!!! You hit all of the points perfectectly. I just want myself, my family members, & other ethnicities to be treated equally.

    Like

  2. It helps to have an intelligent opinion when talking about racial issues instead of going based on emotions. Having allies is important to making progress despite what background they come from.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s