This whole week we have been pondering and reflecting on these well articulated reasons why Black Lives Matter. They can help us understand that the push-back claim “all lives matter” does not work to help us all become a better people. In recent years I have become convinced that we who are white are the ones who really have work to do. That will seem a gross understatement to those who are not white. It is a “realization” because those of us living under the cover of white privilege and especially those of us living with a progressive or liberal world view may still hold a sense that there’s nothing left to do. The civil rights movement happened. Civil rights are a matter of law now, so what could be wrong? When we find ourselves thinking or feeling this way, we owe it to ourselves to shake it off and remind ourselves that there is plenty still wrong. The last two items on the list of considerations bring it home for us.
Why at this time must it be “Black lives matter” and not the refrain “All lives matter?”
- Because it’s high time for whites to acknowledge and show solidarity with the indignities, fear, and pain that our African American sisters and brothers experience on a daily basis.
- Because we will never fulfill this country’s founding principles and become whole as a society until we face up to and address our racism and the toll that it continues to take on African Americans, and on all of us.
These last items are a call to a future together as one people in this country. They hold the potential for making a bridge into a future in which American people really do see the dignity and worth in each human being. The first steps on that bridge are acknowledging the indignities, fear and pain that our African American sisters and brothers experience on a daily basis. In our misguided rush to “not see color” and “treat everyone the same” we who are white remain blind to how our fellow citizens who are darker in color are routinely not treated the same. The simple call is to acknowledge that–to find ways, every day ways, to include in conversations and relationship that we see, we hear, we know that there is suffering for them because of the color of their skin. And that we stand with them.
Do we hear the call? Can we begin to imagine conversations in which we find ways to say: I see you. I hear you. I can see that you are suffering and that this is being done to you because you are black. I stand with you.
Taking this move toward acknowledgment of suffering and demonstrating solidarity might feel frightening at times. It’s a step into a new place for those of us who are white. It’s a step into what our black brothers and sisters deal with on a daily basis. It also holds the potential for making us into one people. Ultimately, our racism will destroy us all. Ultimately, our solidarity–if we are willing to create it–can save us all. Here’s the future I see this bridge of love leading to. It is the future of One People–the one people whose chose to stand together.