Black Dreams Matter
I have been thinking a lot about the state of our world these days. I am not alone.
Yesterday I did what I have been so good at avoiding - responding to a Facebook post. We all know where that leads.
I did it in defense of a friend - a very balanced, "traditional Republican" friend, by the way, who was being attacked for posting an article that was "one-sided" about the recent Capitol riots, apparently not adequately accounting for the role that both Antifa and Black Lives Matter played. There was only one problem. They didn't.
I am stuck between trying to find compassion for a large group of people who are hurt, offended and scared by the changing demographics that convince many that they are "losing their country" and my "get your shit together" mindset that wants them to get with the program. This was never "their" country alone, to begin with.
Yeah - compassion and anger. It's been an interesting two weeks...or four years - pick whatever timeline suits you.
It's not so much the rioters at the Capitol that bother me the most - it is the silent majority who still support Donald Trump, at any cost. There are plenty of flags and lawn signs around where I live to send the message. This has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat. It has to do with a cult and a programming that his hurtful to us as a nation and as a people.
Many good law-abiding people with wonderful families, religious affiliations and personal biographies that would make them candidates for any office, also hold racist views. We all do to some extent, at least unconsciously. It is something I am more and more aware of and trying to hold myself accountable while also not chastising myself or others for reacting in ways that have been largely programmed over many years. We are all works in progress. Just realizing this without judgement or blame is a huge step. Yet, why can't we do this as a nation?
People are willing to overlook Trump's rhetoric and then dismiss or downplay the unprecedented role he has played in enabling racism in our country for the sake of their more importantly held views - whether it is about a woman's right to choose or feelings about their 401K. You can be both a racist and a "pillar of the community". How many SS men were "great dads" according to the children who grappled with the reality that daddy was a Nazi years later? Thousands.
This sounds harsh, I realize, but it is important to know that when Martin Luther King talked about having a dream, it didn't specify that it was a black dream only. It was our collective dream, or so he hoped, because he held the promise of humanity in the cradle of his oratory.
But he also said something else that must not be overlooked: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
I am not black and that matters. My experience, no matter how open I am to challenging my (or other) beliefs, will never compare to that of a black man. Never. Black lives matter does not mean that all lives do not matter, as so many will have you believe. It is a reminder that silence is the ultimate arbiter of oppression. Without a voice, the issue is settled.
So, yes, Black Lives Matter, is a reminder that there is a voice attached to every systemic abuse thrown at black people and people of color. It is the way it is - whether we white people want to accept it or not. To argue in any other way is to support a notion that those who are on the receiving end of force, physical or otherwise, are somehow deserving or inferior.
If those reading this disagree, here is a quick test: pretend you wake up tomorrow and every single thing about you is the same - your job, your car, the place you live, your hobbies and the people in your life. Except you are black. Now go through your day in your mind and consider if any of your experiences might change and how. It matters and so do our voices. As Dr. King might agree, that is the day that our lives begin to truly grow.
Until next time,