The other day, I was looking at Facebook (like I often do) and I noticed a conversation on someone’s post where someone referred to “all the BLM people.” As though they are one and the same, and all evil. There was mention of the opportunities that are available and how Black people choose not to take them. And how they are “uneducated” and “whining” and saying “poor me.” And how Lincoln freed them with the Emancipation Proclamation.
And my blood started to boil. I am a BLM person. I’m not whining, I’m not uneducated, I’m not saying “poor me.” And I’m not black.
What a complete and deliberate misunderstanding of our country’s history and how that history has been repeated and reincarnated in a revolving door of societal mistreatment.
The Black Lives Matter movement was always about equality and equity for black people. It sheds light on the systemic racism that still exists in our society, regardless of the freedoms provided by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Act. Laws are put into place, but if hearts and minds aren’t changed, and bad actions are not called out and corrected, then we haven’t come as far as we’d like to believe. And there are a lot of hearts and minds that have not changed.
Thinking that racism doesn’t exist is not only naive, it’s dangerous, because it empowers the malignant forces like White Supremacists to become bolder and more vocal. We as white people must recognize that even though opportunities for everyone are supposedly out there, the system within which people achieve success is still tilted to favor us and in many cases, disfavor them. That is why BLM exists. It doesn’t take a lot of research to realize that, but you must be willing to listen and hear what they are saying. Just calling them “whiners” means that you enjoy your privilege too much to even consider that they might have a valid point.
I do not care to engage everyone with the original viewpoint shared above in a conversation. The misinformed “historical viewpoints,” the circular arguments, the deflection, and the gaslighting are not something I have the patience or the stomach for. I just shake my head and deal with the ache that I feel that someone doesn’t have the ability to be honest with themselves, and that they will continue to find nonsense to confirm their personal biases because it is too hard to changed deep-seated beliefs.
I will, however, engage in an honest conversation of how someone’s upbringing may have led them to beliefs, behaviors and positions that they are now realizing are, in fact, racist. And I will support anyone who needs a little help understanding or dealing with how they may have in some way contributed to the culture of inequity, and what they might be able to do from this point forward.
It is hard to be honest with yourself – especially when you have to take yourself to task for something you might be embarrassed about, or something you have believed for a long, long time. Yet it is the necessary work that we all must do in order to move this country forward and truly be a better place.
The work I’ve been doing on my play, “How Do We Feel Right Now” has been an uncomfortable education of the experiences that the people around me have dealt with every single day. That discomfort cements my drive to use my position to make change. Reading through the stories often leaves my face feeling hot and my heart racing. To me, this is good thing. It means the message is getting clearer to me. It means I’m on the right track.
I still have a lot to learn. I am willing to learn. I hope people reading this are willing as well.
I maintain, Black Lives Matter.