I had a little bit of an epiphany yesterday during an especially long drive home.
To prevent road boredom, I was a listening to talk radio, and a news segment about the Black Lives Matter movement caught my attention.
Before we proceed, a bit of disclosure: I am a white, middle-aged man.
Up until yesterday, I generally had a reflexive, knee-jerk reaction to the synergy building in the Black Lives Matter campaign: I would generally mutter: “All lives matter,” and while I still believe that is intellectually true, what is so wrong with acknowledging that Black Lives do, in fact, matter?
I began wondering, can’t we say Black Lives Matter without assuming that it is an automatic dismissal of other lives, races or ethnic backgrounds?
Why can’t we simply acknowledge that Black Lives Matter without feeling defensive and the impulsive need to correct those who deliver that message?
Like most white people, I want to believe that racism in the United States is a topic best left for the history books. I generally ignore it, or once in a while give it a passing nod as a present day and legitimate problem. I wrote about my own battles with racism previously.
But how can we ignore the rising tensions in black communities without actually sticking our heads in the sand?
I know and expect that I am going to get push-back for this blog post, but before you respond I would ask you to consider the following analogy.
Close your eyes and imagine that you and I are close friends. I have just been through a painful ordeal, one in which justice and fairness evaded me.
I say to you, “My Life Matters.”
Do you feel compelled to say, “Well, my life matters, too. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
Or could you say, “Yeah, your life matters. I’m sorry you are going through a difficult time.”
I really think it’s okay to acknowledge someone’s pain, sorrow or grief without lecturing them about what a politically correct response should be.
It is 2015, why is not okay for some people to hear the phrase that Black Lives Matter?
Why does that make so many people uncomfortable? No one is saying that white lives do not matter or that Hispanic lives do not matter.
A growing number of people in America are standing up, acknowledging reality and asserting that Black Lives Matter.
And they do.