I’ve been brewing over this article for a long time now. I have intended to write something to explain my stance and understanding of support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement for about a month. I have had long conversations, polled friends on Facebook and read an absurd amount of material to speak logically and appropriately regarding the BLM movement and my stance.
When asked, most white people respond to the question “how often do you think about race?” with, “not at all, or not much”. Insisting that they themselves are innocent when it comes to being racist or having racist thoughts, but that was never the question I was asking. I was asking, “how often do you think about race (in general)”. Whether it be your race, races in America or the race of others around you.
When I asked the same question of my non-white friends, their response was overwhelmingly “all the time”. They didn’t make an assumption of whether or not I was asking if they were racist or have racist thoughts, they knew I was asking them how often do they think of their own race or the interaction with the races of those around them.
This should set the stage for the remainder of what I’m writing.
I believe that I live in a state of White Privilege. I was never given this privilege, I didn’t sign up for a membership or swear on oath to gain a benefit. I was simply born white, and because of that upbringing I have never once had to think of my race with regards to my life. I never thought about the type of college I’d go to, the type of job I’d get. I never worried that my name (which is a white guy name) would limit me from being hired or cause people to second guess my character. It’s very hard to grasp this idea and even harder to accept it.
When I initially heard of #BlackLivesMatter my immediate thoughts were to say “but all lives matter”. Which is true, all lives matter. Police lives, white lives, brown lives and black lives, but what I didn’t understand was that black people were not just shouting Black Lives Matter at whites or at cops, they are saying it to everyone, even other blacks. It’s a rally cry, a spirited motivator and reminder that their own lives matter.
Blacks are disenfranchised by the established social classes within our country. They are less likely to succeed, less likely to get a proper education and more likely to go to jail or be put in prisons. The locations in which many of them are forced to live get the lowest amount of budget for education and the highest amount of police presence for enforcement. For the fortunate few who do make it out of the cyclical poverty, they go on to places where they are still considered second hand citizens among white culture.
There is an ingrained lack of value in the lives of black people. Just as whites are born with this inherited privilege, blacks are born with inherited low self worth. Just watch the multiple YouTube videos called “The Doll Test” and you can see that not just in our own country, but in other countries as well, blacks are considered “bad”, “ugly” and “useless” at very young ages, while whites are the “good”, the “helpful” and the “beautiful” race. Why think that you can succeed when you are preprogramed to think you will fail? Even among their own race, blacks compare skin color and strive to be lighter skinned. To be dark is ugly.
So with all of that being said, when a person says “Black Lives Matter”, they aren’t saying to you that your life matters less and theirs more, they are saying it as a reminder and affirmation that their own lives matter, that they are good and they are beautiful. They are coming together as a people, united in cause to elevate the worth of a disenfranchised race of humans. They are saying Black Lives Matter Too, not only black lives matter. That is why I can say without any devaluing of any other life, black, white or purple, that #BlackLivesMatter.