Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, I Don’t See Color, White Privilege…
These are just words, phrases. Yet, they elicit a strong response in most of us, and probably in different ways for different reasons.
Assumptions are made when people use these phrases, yet intentions may vary greatly. Assumptions are also made when people dislike these phrases, yet reasons may vary greatly.
I think it’s time that we stop making assumptions, and start seeking understanding when people say certain things.
Let’s go over these phrases together:
Black Lives Matter – I am ashamed to say that I used to be uncomfortable by this phrase because it seemed to be saying that black lives mattered more than other lives. Perhaps there are some few who do/did believe that, but, I have since learned that saying this does not, should not, mean that other lives do not matter. It simply means that black lives need more care, more protection, more change, and more hope because they are still seeing much inequality, injustice, and persecution in this country. They are seeing needless deaths over and over and they want to passionately express that their lives are just as important as everyone else’s. And you know what? This phrase is not just for black people – it’s for everyone who wants to see racism die. I know that I do. As long as this phrase is used to bring awareness and positive change to the issue of racism in this country, and not as a reason to justify violent protests and destruction, it is good.
All Lives Matter – The intention of using this phrase greatly affects the way people take it. Too many people say it because they don’t like to face the possibility that racism really exists – because it makes them uncomfortable to face the possibility of corruption. They want to stay color-blind and minimize the oppression black people in this country and other countries still face. There are also well-meaning people who say it because they really, truly believe in the sanctity of all lives, and that includes black lives. They feel it’s more helpful to use this phrase. Just remember, that in order for this phrase to be true, Black Lives Matter must also become true. So, to be passionate about one and not the other would be an oxymoron. Use the phrase in love for all and a desire to make the phrase true, and it can be good.
Blue Lives Matter – Because of the ongoing list of examples in recent years of blacks being killed needlessly by corrupt police officers, this phrase can be a touchy one. Some feel that this phrase is in opposition to Black Lives Matter, and truthfully, it often is. But, to those with good intentions, they use this phrase not to minimize black lives or justify killing them. They just know, and have compassion for the fact, that police officers face danger on a daily basis too. They know that many fear going to work as they may face retaliation for something that corrupt police officers have done. Perhaps the most important reason for this phrase is to show that most police officers are good people who truly wish to protect their communities. Use it this way, and not in any way to minimalize Black Lives Matter or retaliate against it, and this phrase can be good.
I Don’t See Color – This phrase is usually used by well-intentioned white people. They are usually genuinely trying to express that color isn’t what motivates how they treat people. However, it’s important to understand that people of color want you to see their color – see it as beautiful, meaningful, and a part of who they are. They want you to see their struggles and support them in their fight to end racism. We cannot fix something we cannot, or choose not to see. Thus, we must choose to see color.
White Privilege – I used to hate this term. I don’t feel privileged. Nothing in my life has been handed to me on a silver platter. I have had to work hard for all I have. I have had many heartaches, disappointments, and unfairness in my life. Something I realized more recently than I care to admit, though, is that being “privileged” doesn’t mean that everything in my life is easy. It just means that I don’t experience some of the horrible hardships and persecutions and fear that others face who don’t have the color of my skin. It’s hard to admit because it’s not something I as a white person have any control over, want, or think I deserve. I don’t want to be judged harshly for being white, which is something I cannot control, or treated like I think I’m better than everyone else simply because I’m white. I cannot control what others think of me any more than I can control the color of my skin. But, what I can do is recognize that there is still a major gap in racial equality. We have come so far from Civil War times, and Civil Rights times, but to say racism is gone and that there is no white privilege is ignoring other people’s suffering because we don’t want to face it. It’s easier to ignore it. But ignoring it doesn’t help, and it doesn’t make life safer or happier for those who are less privileged than me. As someone who is privileged, I need to stand up and fight for a world where people are only privileged by merit and deed, not by the color of their skin. White friends and family, instead of being annoyed or offended at this term, let’s use it as a way to make change.
As you can see, all of these phrases can be forces for good if said and met with good intention.
But, we are not there yet! It’s refreshing right now to see so many well-intentioned, well-rounded, respectful posts and comments related to George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests and rioting. However, it is difficult and discouraging to read so many posts and comments that go far in the other direction.
I feel that I speak out against what I am reading. I feel that I must share what I know to be right.
Based on my experience as someone trying to be a good person, as a writer, as a Christian, and as a social media follower, I have learned that:
- Speaking in condescending tones while calling names and cursing dramatically will not bring people to your side. It will simply solidify someone’s reasoning to disagree with you.
- If you must speak in anger, you should do it with the intention to do good – not to shame, criticize, or show any form of hatred or prejudice. Anger intertwined with hate will only harm you and others who decide to join you in that hate.
- Extreme sarcasm only gets positive reactions from those who already agree with you. Avoid it, as it makes you seem egotistical and unopen to others’ perspectives.
- Judging people without knowing their hearts is playing God. Only God knows what is in someone’s heart. It is not up to us to decide who is evil or who deserved what they got.
- Not speaking up due to fear will not help you or anyone else. We all have experiences, knowledge, and convictions to share. Perhaps you will be the one who can change someone’s heart. This is a hard one, but you will feel so much better as you try.
- Blindly sharing what you see on Facebook makes you seem uneducated. Before you share “facts,” fact check. And make sure what you are sharing is helpful, not hurtful.
- Not everything is a political issue, especially the value of someone’s life. This is a human issue, so stop making it so political. This can only divide us.
- Calling out hypocrisy only helps if you are making plans to stop it, to change it, and make sure you aren’t also a hypocrite.
- You can be well-rounded. Not everything is one way or the other. We shouldn’t compartmentalize groups of people because when we do, we forget that people are complex and have their own individualized views based on experience and conviction.
- Labels are only good to help present and appreciate identity, not to deliberately try to divide others. Remember that we all wear the labels first of human being and children of God.
- Stereotypes are a form of racism, as is ignoring the problem, justifying the problem, and ignoring history. Subtle racism is still racism, so be careful how you say things.
- If you must condemn actions, provide a better choice so it’s not just judgment we are spreading, but motivation for change.
- We need to think before we talk or post. Would we want someone to say those things to us, or our friend, or our family member? What message are we sending?
- It’s so important to look outside our own perspective and try to step into someone else’s shoes. If we do this, we will find we are less judgmental, critical, careless, and skeptical. We will instead learn understanding and empathy.
- Never minimize the experience of others. Their fear is real. Their anxiety is real. Their pain is real. Try to understand. Ask rather than assume something isn’t as bad as it seems.
- If you want to make change, focus on the root of the problem. It may not be obvious. Seek it out. What can you do individually to help it? What can you say to persuade others to make better choices?
- When you share a meme, it may seem powerful at the time, but think before you post it. The message may not be as it seems. It may hurt others.
- Do not take the media so seriously. There are agendas and half-truths told all day long. It’s our responsibility to search for real, unbiased truth. You may realize there is a lot more goodness in this world than you realized. You may also realize how much change is needed, and how you can take a stand.
- Not everybody will agree with you. You can’t make people believe what you believe. But, if you speak respectfully with good intentions and a passion for positive change, you will be a force for good for those who are ready to listen, understand, and find common ground.
- Spread what will do the most good – love, kindness, understanding, acts of service, and inspirational messages. We have too much hate and negativity in this world.
Some of these things are hard to hear and even harder to do. I’m sure I am sometimes guilty of these things myself – being silent for too long is the one I regret the most. But I do make the best effort I can to spread love, not hate. I try very hard to speak to educate rather than denigrate. I work to understand others who are different than me rather than toss their views aside. I try to unite, not divide.
Imagine if we all did those things. Imagine if we used our influence to bring light and understanding and peace to the world. We can do it one person at a time. Truly we all have the God-given power to be a force for good. I know it.
Now is the time to speak up for love and peace, not hate and violence, which is spreading all too quickly and furiously throughout our land. God will win this war of hate amongst His children, and we must help Him, whether it is by standing in peaceful protests, speaking up on social media, signing petitions, seeking reform, or talking to family and friends who have their own racial biases.
I feel so strongly that white people especially need to take a stand and join forces hand in hand with our black brothers and sisters, not just privately, but publicly. Let the world know that racism cannot and will not be tolerated any longer. If we do this, we can bring hope and lasting change. Perhaps less will feel like their only option is to loot, burn, and violently protest to get their message across. It’s a travesty that anyone should ever feel that way because it is not the answer – it only spreads more hate and creates more division. Hopefully we are waking up to the reality, and will use our words, influence, deeds, and hearts to help those who feel oppressed and afraid to feel only safety, joy, and fairness.
I stand with you wholeheartedly, my black friends and neighbors. I truly believe and know that Black Lives Matter.
You may wish to read other posts I have read about this topic. Please share any and all that speak to you. Thank you for reading and for your support.