Relationships With People

Black Lives Matter

In 2013, after the man who killed Trayvon Martin was acquitted in one of the greatest travesties our very blind justice system has ever perpetrated, the Black Lives Matter movement began.

It didn’t take long for some white people, upon hearing that phrase, to respond, “All lives matter.” And it didn’t take long after that for many Black people to say that the response undercut their message. I wondered why. In order to create change don’t we need to understand that Black lives are equal to all others? And if we’re all equal we all matter. What’s the problem with saying so?

I asked that question of a friend who said, it’s the way white people make everything about themselves. Why can’t we just focus on Black Lives? Why can’t we talk about Black Lives exclusively without feeling the need to include others? Why can’t we put the spotlight on Black Lives the way we always do on white lives, white people? 

I had to admit, I don’t recall ever hearing someone invoke “all lives” when talking about white people, do you? There was my white privilege showing. It was embarrassing to admit it. And I’m grateful my friend said it to me.

And here we are, in the summer of 2020, talking about the tragic death of George Floyd; his life ended by a white police officer while three other officers stood by and did nothing to save him. (I just learned the news that his charges have been upgraded and the three others will now be charged as well.)

Relationships With People

Lives are of paramount importance. And yet, we don’t have relationships with lives, we have relationships with people.

Black people are women and men and girls and boys and adolescents and young adults. Black people are daughters and sons and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents of every socio-economic status, every religion, every career, every political affiliation, every other possible denominator you could apply to anyone. It’s those denominators, the factors that show individuality, and unique qualities that must be seen and acknowledged in order to understand

Black People Matter.