As I read back through some of my previous posts, I realized I haven’t written anything about Black Lives Matter since the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. And then so, so many others afterwards. And before.
Have you watched the videos? Of George Floyd pleading for his life, pleading for his mother? A human being dying in the street in broad daylight when he had knowingly or unknowingly used a fake bill? Do you fear for your life when you go to the grocery store? If you answered no to that, are you white?
I’m still wading through how to be anti-racist and amplify voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). I haven’t written about it here because I do not yet know how to do that without centering myself in the process. Maybe that’s what I’m doing writing this. Maybe I’ll read this in a year and see all the racist components that might be present that I can’t yet see. Here’s what I know now:
- We, white people, do not like being called racists. We want to be a “good person” and we think of racists as KKK members or white supremacists committing atrocities on BIPOC people. But because we have grown up with racism in the air, it is inside us. That piece is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to recognize it and get it the hell out of us. If you’re reading this post and feel a heavy heart, I’m with you. Because we are unlearning all the things we’ve been indoctrinated with since we were born. All of us. But ultimately, this conversation is not about us. Cry, yell, throw tantrums, but we cannot make this about us, white people.
- Have you ever done any of the things listed below?:
A. Slept in your bed (Breonna Taylor, Louisville, KY 2020)
B. Gone on an afternoon run through your neighborhood (Ahmaud Arbery, Georgia, 2020)
C. Sought help after a car crash (Johnathan Ferrell, Charlotte, NC, 2013)
D. Played with your toy gun at the age of 12 (Tamir Rice, Cleveland, OH, 2014)
E. Held your cell phone (Stephon Clark, Sacramento, CA, 2018)
F. Sat in your own home (Botham Jean, Dallas, 2019)
G. Played video games in your home (Atatiana Jefferson, Ft. Worth, 2019)
H. Your medical alert monitor accidentally went off (Kenneth Chamberlain, White Plains New York, 2011)
These are literally just a few of the human beings who were killed in the last decade at the hands of those who vowed to serve and protect. Doing things that we as humans do daily.
- Silence is no longer acceptable. I will not be silent about this ever again. I will have hard conversations with the people I love who have racism in their hearts. I will continue to listen and not speak. I will make so many racist mistakes, but I will push forward with learning and love. It’s not about my ego, it’s about loving the people around me. (Sound familiar? Jesus?)
- Things will never be the same again. Inside me. In the framework from which I view the world. The world itself. That’s scary, I know. It’s easier to be lulled into complicity by arguments like “George Floyd deserved to die”, “the police officer felt threatened”, “Blue lives matter”, “All lives matter”. Being BIPOC is not a uniform someone can take off at the end of the day.
All lives do matter; however, if we lived in the same neighborhood, and your house was on fire, you’d be calling for help, on a phone, at a neighbor’s. All your life’s work burning down. The flames destroying your American dream. Maybe some of your family members are stuck inside. Your beloved dog or cat might also still be inside. You say “My house is burning! HELP! My kids are in the house! My animals are in the house!” Here I come, your friendly neighbor. My response to you is, “All houses matter, friend.”
I’ll leave it there for now.