We have seen some limited progress on addressing police brutality since the beginning of the “Black Lives Matter” movement and it seems that many white allies seem ready to “move on” to other issues. I think that would be a tragic mistake. Painting the words “Black Lives Matter” on the street in front of The White House and Trump Tower doesn’t end police brutality towards the black community. It is imperative that we all keep speaking up and working together to relegate systemic racism to the dust heap of American history. If we’re not careful, politicians will substitute symbolic gestures like taking down statues depicting slave owners or racists, important as that may be, for actual policy progress.
There may never be a better time than this to pressure city, state, and federal government leaders to bring about real and lasting change in the way law enforcement interacts with black people and people of color. A majority of the American people are sympathetic to this cause for the first time in its history and if we back down now this movement may never recover.
It’s important to remember why we’re in this fight.
When Rosa sat down, many white Americans told her to stand up.
When Martin stood up, many white Americans told him to sit down.
When Colin knelt, many white Americans told him to stand up and show some respect.
When George was thrown face down on the city street, one white American police officer knelt down upon him and choked the life out of him.
When thousands of black Americans took to the streets in protest of police brutality, many white Americans were calling for “law and order” rather than for justice for the victims of systematic oppression.
So when white allies say “Black Lives Matter”, we are speaking up on behalf of the millions of people of color in this country. We don’t say that as victims of anything, but as recovering racists and white supremacists ourselves.
We speak, because for far too long-we were silent.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because we want people of color to know that they aren’t alone, that God cares about their oppression, and that not all white Christian Americans are marching to the same drumbeat of gaslighting and white supremacy.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because people of color were paying close attention just a couple of months ago when white Americans stormed state capitals-many with weapons of war-screaming and pushing police officers as those officers simply stood by and watched. There was no tear gas. No rubber bullets. No screaming patrols through their quiet neighborhoods.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because armed white Americans protesting health regulations get those regulations lifted while people of color protesting murder and systemic racism get curfews and more police brutality.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because far too many of us see a group of armed white people as “patriots” but see unarmed black people as “thugs”.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because-throughout history-God has always been on the side of the oppressed.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because our friends of color hear the praise and applause of so many white Christians for a President who considers them a threat and sends the US Military to forcibly remove peaceful protesters so that he can have a photo op in front of a church he’s never attended while holding a Bible that commands him to love his neighbors of color and to release the oppressed from their bondage.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because there are still too many white Americans who have never heard the names:
and of thousands of other victims of racism, white supremacy, and police brutality.
We say “Black Lives Matter”, not to divide, but in heartbroken recognition of the fact that we are already divided and that the deck is stacked against people of color in this country.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because we want our children to know that when police officers were murdering people of color in the streets of America-some white Americans refused to stand idly by and do nothing.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because there are some white Americans who have ignored black voices for so long they can’t hear anything unless a white person says it.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because all people of color were created in the image of God with intrinsic dignity and value.
We say “Black Lives Matter” because our siblings of color are worth speaking up for and they are telling us to keep saying “Black Lives Matter”.
The officers who killed Breonna Taylor have yet to be charged with her murder.
The officers who killed Elijah McClain are still on the police department payroll.
Both the Republican and Democratic candidates for President this year have shown resistance to the idea of reallocating resources from police militarism to improve the lives of black people and people of color.
This struggle is nowhere near over.
I recently hosted my friend, Derrick Day, for an honest and engaging conversation about systemic racism in America on The Messy Spirituality Podcast. You can find that episode here.
What are you seeing in your part of the country?
Is the BLM movement stalling there? Thriving?
Are policies changing in your community?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.