It’s midnight and I’m in the middle of finishing up a lighthearted post for tomorrow. A travel piece that will now have to wait because there’s something else I’ve really gotta say.
A few minutes ago, my boyfriend burst through the door from his baseball game and asked, “Have you been following what’s going on in Dallas??” I checked my Twitter feed, only to find it filled with news of shootings – more shootings – this time of police officers at a peaceful gathering protesting the recent police shootings of two black Americans in Minnesota and Louisiana. Instead of going to bed, I now find myself sat at my desk wide awake, sad and confused about what is happening to the world. Sad for the families left to grieve, sad for the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile taken, sad that we wake up every day to news of more deaths.
But the sadness quickly turned to anger as I noticed tweets blaming the black community and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, as well as a few calls for Trump to ‘save America’ and the always-present yet wildly misused rebuttal: ‘All Lives Matter.’ And that’s when I got mad. No more. No more of this.
Dear fellow white people,
When someone says ‘Black Lives Matter’, WE DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO GET OFFENDED. You do not have a right to turn it around and make it all about you and say ‘All Lives Matter’. This is not about your rights. It’s not about making sure we know that police lives matter too. It’s not a contest or a war to be won of whose lives matter most. No one is arguing that white lives matter… because it has never been an issue. There is no need to remind everyone that white lives matter – the world is reminded everyday when our white privilege affords us more rights and freedoms than any other race, without question or concern, simply because of the colour of our skin.
The Black Lives Matter movement is NOT AN ATTACK ON YOU. It is not racist. It is not trying to take your rights away or make you a lesser citizen. The Black Lives Matter movement is a cry for change – it’s about equality and it’s about championing for justice. It’s about being heard and respected as human beings. Wouldn’t you be frustrated if your voice was being ignored? Wouldn’t you stage sit-ins and hold protests if human rights didn’t apply to you the same way they do to everyone else? This civil unrest hasn’t just arrived out of nowhere, guys – it’s the eruption of years and years of built-up frustration from a group of people who have been persecuted, killed and enslaved at the hand of white people for centuries. Saying things like ‘All Lives Matter’ and ‘Blue Lives Matter’ does exactly what white privilege has always allowed us to do – it disempowers the message and silences the voice of black people.
So, fellow white people, if I can please ask of you one thing, it’s this: just stop. Drop the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’. Stop taking the message and making it yours. And instead of being on the defense any time a person of colour speaks up about the way their family, friends and culture are being mistreated and abused by an unjust society, we need to close our mouths and open our ears.
Because what is happening to black members of our communities is not okay.
It is not okay for a human life to be taken away so easily and without repercussion.
It is not okay for the colour of someone’s skin to determine their character, social status or quality of life.
It is not okay for children of colour to grow up fearing they might be gunned down by the same people that are supposed to protect them.
It is not okay for a disproportionate amount of black men and women to be incarcerated for the same petty crimes that white people get a slap on the wrist for.
It is not okay for it to be 2016 and still have racially biased lawmakers, judicial authorities and protective services running shit.
It is not fucking okay.
And it’s not okay to sit back and say, ‘Well, this is a black issue so it doesn’t really affect me.’ Because it sure as hell does. The mistreatment of any member of a society affects ALL of the people within it. And even though as white people we can’t ever imagine the feeling of prejudice or amount of racial profiling that a person of colour has to deal with every single day, there’s still plenty that you can do to provoke change.
Show your support.
Respect black culture.
Stand up for what is good and what is right.
Teach your kids that Black Lives Matter.
Because the more voices that speak up, the harder it is to drown them out.
I don’t usually discuss the ins and outs of politics, race or religion here on This Renegade Love but I’m sad that it’s 2016 and we still need to be having this conversation. That being said, we need to have this conversation – we can’t just pretend that racial inequality doesn’t exist because it makes us ‘uncomfortable’ to talk about it.
Spread the message. Provoke change.