Isn’t the common thread to being a human that we all want to matter? We all want someone to look into our depths, hold us tightly, and tell us how wonderful and significant we are to them. I can tell you that too without even knowing you. You matter so incredibly much; you wouldn’t be alive if you didn’t.
It isn’t a competition though of who matters most. I pray for all the daily horrors that come out in the news and for all the ones that they silence, they sweep under the rug with the blood still leaking out from the edges. We all hurt. We all lose. We all mourn.
When we say black lives matter we aren’t negating any of your losses and injustices. We just want to matter. With all of the shootings, the negative and often menacing way we’re presented in the media, the way we overpopulate our prison systems, it doesn’t feel like our lives matter. We need the lives of Trayvon, Alton, Sandra, Eric, Renisha, Philando, Tamir, Walter, Jonathan, Samuel, Michael… and so many other black people whose names only their loved ones will ever know because no one was there to video tape their murder. We need the oppression, enslavement, and suffering of our ancestors to matter. They didn’t fight for so much change for us to continue losing our loved ones to violence and imprisonment.
I’m not going to hurt you. Do you think I am? Is that why you reach for your gun, your purse, for the other side of the street so quickly? What do you fear? Have an honest conversation with yourself about what scares you about black people. Invite fear over for dinner. Serve it your favorite meal. Become so familiar with it that you can be present with it when you encounter someone whose image you perceive as dangerous so that you can pause and choose not to engage in an act of prejudice, judgment, or violence when you feel threatened.
All lives matter, of course, but must we argue about who matters most and what hashtag you use to illustrate your support when we keep losing our sons and daughters and we are scared. We are angry. We are tired.
We know most cops are good. We love most cops but that doesn’t negate the way we feel when we are driving, see a cop car approaching, and wonder is this one of the bad ones? How can I be less threatening, less myself, to continue living after being pulled over?
What now? What now? What now? Endless body bags. Endless infrastructures set up to create the divides and deepen the injustices. Educate yourself. This list of resources is a great start. Engage in as much dialogue as possible with as many people as possible. Engage in conversation with law enforcement and government at all levels–city, state, and federal– and ask what can be done differently. Demand change. Engage in dialogue internally and explore any barriers within yourself for equal rights and equal treatment for black people. Support black businesses. Support black neighborhoods–help revive them and make them beautiful and safe again. Help shift the prison system from being a system of punishment to a system of rehabilitation to set people up for success upon their release. Talk with your children and other youth you are connected to and educate them about racism, social injustices, and privilege. Join an organization that advocates for change — The Movement for Black Lives is one. Never stop believing that change can happen.