I have something to say about this black lives matter business but before I do, let me quickly set this up:
When my mother died in a very tragic way, I often heard things like, “She died? Well, I’m sure glad my mother’s still alive”.
When I was going through a painful divorce, I heard things like, “He’s divorcing you? Well, I’ve been married for 36 years”.
They redirected. But, why?
I purposed not to let these peoples responses shake me so this is what I figured; they didn’t respond in an empathetic or sympathetic way because 1) they just couldn’t relate, 2) they felt uncomfortable, after all, most people don’t know how to deal with others’ grief, 3) they truly didn’t know how to help or what to say and instead of saying nothing, they say something foolish. I’ve done the same thing many times! 4) they didn’t believe me, or maybe, 5) they actually thought they were helping or saying something beneficial.
I am not saying I deserved compassion, but despite me not receiving it, I really tried to show compassion towards them. Partly out of love, partly for my own sanity. I had to examine myself and think back on all of the times I “helped” in the wrong ways, said unintentionally hurtful or stupid things, wasn’t there for people because I honestly didn’t know that they needed help or how they needed help; or I helped up until it was inconvenient for me to help any further.
Me being honest with me helps me not get so ruffled about others getting offended by and bashing #blacklivesmatter before fully understanding some of its meaning.
If I were to paraphrase part of the #blacklivesmatter meaning, I’d say it means, “Hey brown/black people, even though you deal with blatant and subtle proven systematic racism and racism expressed in a variety of ways, and even though everything under the umbrella of racism is telling you that you are of lesser or little value, I am saying that you are valuable. You are loved. You are capable. You are beautiful. You can get through this. Believe these things despite the racist circumstances that you have and will again encounter. Be strong, be loving, and continue standing up for your rights. Do it all knowing that your-life-does-matter.”
But that’s too long for a hashtag.
#blacklivesmatter could also mean, “Hey white-skinned people who are consciously and unconsciously racist, please open your eyes, your minds, your hearts to see we are not a stereotype or a statistic or a caricature or willing to be treated unjustly. Just like you aren’t. We are not all bad, not all good, not all thugs, not all of anything. Just like you. We are not a generalization. Just like you. Please don’t judge the majority of us by the few that are acting crazy. The majority of us won’t judge the minority of you who are acting crazy. We love you but we have to encourage ourselves right now. Encouraging ourselves doesn’t mean we devalue you. Yes, some do hate you but most of us don’t. Just as some of you hate us but most of you don’t. Please understand that racism is a real thing for us. We aren’t making this stuff up. You may not be racist yourself but racism still speaks and still, for the most part, reveals itself through people who look like you, but may currently express itself via an alternative vocabulary and mask. For years, society and media has made white “the default”, “the standard”. We see how the world is shaped – by a mostly white American male society through mainly media and marketing. American media and marketing has brainwashed even us and we are going through an “un-brainwashing” period right now. We’re American citizens and we want equality, unity, and for racism to no longer be normal in our lives and ignored or swept under the rug in any of your lives. This shouldn’t be a big deal to fight for. You would do the same. You have done the same by picketing, marching, voting, even rioting—those are all ways of standing up for your rights and justice for what and who is valuable to you. The majority of us don’t condone this being done in a dangerous or unlawful way. In fact, the majority of us, for years now, have been fighting this racist disease peacefully and creatively but it just so happens, we’re now getting more press. And mostly negative press, which again, proves our point. So just in case you don’t know or have forgotten, our lives matter just as much as yours. And understand, we encounter people who get angry and even violent at the thought that we are equally valuable. We love you, but we are giving ourselves the extra love we need right now. And listen, most of us really do desire to get to the point to where none of us are saying, “we”, “them”, “those people”, “our people” and part of that starts with the unity and equality for which we’re fighting. We may have experienced life in America differently but that doesn’t negate that we are you, you are us, in different skin.”
But that too, is too long for a hashtag.
Tearing apart this potentially empowering and encouraging phrase/reminder is similar to if a couple is having a heated disagreement and one of the spouses doesn’t exactly know how to articulate what they’re feeling so says everything wrong. The other spouse, instead of looking past their words or anger, and hearing their heart, they pick apart their words and things escalate. They are thinking more about themselves and how things are being said rather than what their spouse is really trying to say. If they were being selfless at the time, they would actually assist their spouse in expressing their heart by giving them time and support—all the while, hearing them out, trying to understand where they’re coming from and asking how they can help and meaning it. This is love and unity.
Within #blacklivesmatter, most of are saying #blacklivesreallyDOmatter to those who think and act the opposite, knowing and unknowingly; and some are even saying it to ourselves after a lifetime of brainwashing.
Instead of hearing the hearts, the meaning, the real-life-experiences of people with more melanin who are saying #blacklivesmatter, those saying it are being dismissed and devalued, once again, by many because folks are offended by the BLM Organization or because it’s not being said in a way that makes everyone comfortable or because it’s not been pre-packaged and pre-approved. Consider that #blacklivesmatter may offend so many because they just plain don’t understand. And that’s okay. It’s hard for any of us to be empathetic towards what we don’t understand. It takes much effort and care. It’s messy! Crying is messy! #blacklivesmatter is a cry! And to some, it’s demand. And some people feel threatened by that.
When we are having a disagreement with someone, we won’t always understand their point of view. But we should always try. We should never be dismissive of someone’s feelings or experiences. Criticizing someone else’s attempt to communicate their heart reveals the criticizER’s insecurity, their battle for control, their selfishness, their hardened heart. It’s bullying. It’s elitism. Why would any of us not want to help someone in pain or distress? Honestly? We should all ask that of ourselves. We are to cry when others cry, laugh when they laugh (empathy) and get angry at any injustice shown towards them (sympathy). We shouldn’t get deflective or defensive or angry but help.
This topic of racism is important to most people with darker complexions. Really important. If you are white and know someone black or brown but haven’t asked how they are or asked how you can help, I challenge you to examine your heart to discover why. Why is this a “those people” issue to you? And talk to your brown/black friends (if you have any) with the intention of hearing them, really hearing them. You might learn some amazing things and at the very least, get to know them better.
Yes things are better than they used to be but they’re still not how they should be. Yes, God loves all of us. Yes all lives matter. But all lives have not been abused, belittled, and hindered in a variety of blatant and secret ways for hundreds of years. It’s now been going on long enough and systematically enough to prove and measure and reveal statistics. Not all lives have been consistently crying out for justice in America. But black lives have, brown lives have, red lives have. And they and we should all be defending and helping these lives. It just so happens that right now, we are in an opportune season—a time to focus on the brown/black people who are reminding each other and those who don’t know that black-lives-do-matter. I know it’s tough, I know it’s uncomfortable, I know it’s a sacrifice, I know it’s scary, but it’s a worthwhile investment into the strengthening and building up of our future as a people. One people. One Body under One Head.
This is a pivotal time in this country and we should all feel privileged to be a part of it and eager to mend breaches and mature as a whole. We should strive to truly listen, to understand, and just plain ol’ help. Doing nothing is not helping. Even if you care.
This is one of the most challenging topics America must be honest about, confront, and heal from in order to continue singing (and praying) “America The Beautiful” without hypocrisy.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy],
and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].
Romans 12:15 AMPC
Whoever you are, I love you.
Thanks for reading.
Originally posted July 13th, 2016
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