Black lives matter. Period. Yes, we hear you. We’ve heard of your struggles, past and present. We know that in America you have a history of being treated less so you often stand in solidarity with each other, even crossing different religions, socioeconomic class, and cultural/political affiliations. This may explain why, among all ethnicities in this diverse country, you often utilize the phrase, “my people” and “your people” based on skin color. But deep down inside, you also know that you are a fellow human being belonging to the human race–and there is only one race. For some, you are our spouse, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or other kin. For many, you are also our in-laws, neighbors, coworkers, godparents, friends, and associates. We see you. We love you. However, many of us are afraid to chant in unison with you for fear that this rally cry would stoke the embers of anger, leading to more bitterness, vindictiveness, and violence in our communities. Turn on the TV and then ask, why shouldn’t we be afraid?
Blue lives matter, too. Yes, we see you, and no, we don’t always hear about your struggles. In a utopian world, you would not be needed. But in this human world, there is sin–perversions, corruption, wrongdoings, lawbreaking, and just plain evil. And true, these misbehaviors exist in all people groups, no matter what race/ethnicity. And true, there is more crime in impoverished neighborhoods and more racial minorities live in poverty compared to their white counterparts. Call it systemic racism, social injustice, or “the fallen world.” If we listen, we will understand that your job is dangerous because you enforce the laws against the lawbreakers. Like the U.S. armed forces, you sacrifice much and sometimes your very life in order to safeguard the greater good. We appreciate your heroic work, for which we rarely give you credit because it is your job. Your badge of duty is worn by white, black, brown, and yellow, among others. Americans of all colors call on you in times of trouble to get the “bad guys” and protect the “good guys.” However, you are only human and in the heat of danger, can mistake which is which. Shouldn’t just laws apply to everyone, regardless of skin color or uniform worn?
All lives matter. A true sentiment but not helpful to our black brethren who are suffering. With some thoughtful research, you will see that there are plenty more of white-on-white police brutality and also black-on-black violent crimes. But, given our nation’s history of what many have labeled “white supremacy” and ensuing racial discord, with each white-on-black police mishap, black Americans feel scared, frustrated, overwhelmed, or exasperated at the thought that their lives matter less and have always mattered less. It’s terrible to hear this platitude of #ALM when one is struggling with despair that this reality may never change in this white majority country. No, not all white people or white police officers are brutally racist or supremacist, but whites make up the majority of law enforcement, just like they reflect 70% of this nation’s racial makeup. They also don’t have to fear getting stigmatized by police based on their skin color. They don’t have to train their kids on how to respond when approached by police or experience PTSD when their son steps foot outside the home.
What my black friends and fellow social workers have taught me is that when #BLM folks protest, they are not excusing sin or wrongdoing. They are not turning a blind eye to the injustices committed among their own people. And they are not saying that white lives don’t matter or blue lives aren’t needed. According to them, the few who have been violent are not representing the BLM movement. Over the last few years, I’ve dared to discuss these controversial issues openly, and have risked being judged as “ignorant” or “bigotted” in the process. After retreating within my shell with folks who are “safer” and aren’t angered by me because I’ve asked the wrong questions or said the wrong words, I’ve come out of my shell to this realization: It’s a rallying cry of do you see my humanity? Does my life matter to you?
And what I’ve learned from talking with my white friends is that they don’t want to be attacked, maligned, condemned, or misjudged for the sins of their ancestors, or the nation. They love everyone, and that includes their black brethren. They do not see themselves as particularly racist or ignorant as they’ve been accused, and they take offense at the anger thrown their way simply because of their pale skin color. Maybe they don’t get you but do you get them? Many don’t know what else to do to better the societal situation and feel frustrated to constantly be the target of such unjustified condemnations. They just want peace and order, and it seems that it was more peaceful yesterday than today.
What are your thoughts on #BLM, #ALM, or #Blue Lives Matter, Too? Maybe we should all get off the internet and go hug a neighbor?