I sit at my keyboard having planned to tell you about my little boy growing from six to seven, milestones met, and about how we rang in his seventh birthday with fireworks and questions I’d never have expected from him. I’d planned to share the magic of a gem mine and water rides on a hot day and about how my baby turning seven gives me incredible joy and and also a little bit of heartbreak.
And, I will. I promise, I’ll tell you about all of that.
Right now though, I feel compelled to talk instead about why #blacklivesmatter.
About two months ago, I got pulled over for expired plates. The officer (a young black man) was unbelievably kind to me.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “”I didn’t even realize!”
“It’s okay,” he said. “Is it a lease?” he asked, saying how he knows for some leased cars, they don’t mail reminders out any longer.
He stood there calmly while I reached into my gigantic mom-purse to find my license.
He didn’t reach for his gun while I fumbled around in a purse he couldn’t see the contents of from where he stood. I was embarrassed but I was not afraid.
When giving me a warning, he said “Here’s a warning you can use in case you get pulled over again before having a chance to go to the DMV.”
I hope his mom knows what a kind son she raised. I’m sure she’s proud of him. I bet she worries about him.
Oh friends, the world. This country this week. Racism. Hatred. Fear. Senseless deaths.
As a middle-aged white woman who sits at my kitchen table while the air conditioning runs and my husband watches our son ride his scooter outside, I am more afraid of impatient traffic than I am of somebody shooting them.
My friend Sara posted an article on Facebook yesterday. I hadn’t read it before but it’s really good. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like being white gave me “we,” the way that the author of I, Racist explains that black people do.
“Black people think in terms of Black people. We don’t see a shooting of an innocent Black child in another state as something separate from us because we know viscerally that it could be our child, our parent, or us, that is shot.
White people do not think in terms of we. White people have the privilege to interact with the social and political structures of our society as individuals. You are ‘you,’ I am ‘one of them.’ Whites are often not directly affected by racial oppression even in their own community, so what does not affect them locally has little chance of affecting them regionally or nationally. They have no need, nor often any real desire, to think in terms of a group. They are supported by the system, and so are mostly unaffected by it.”
The author’s point that white people think of ourselves as individuals rang true for me.
I’m not sure I’ve thought of being
part of a collective WE since
high-school, when WE were the Bruins.
I do not think of myself as racist. I teach my son that life matters and so far, he hasn’t shown any more interest in skin color than to use it as a descriptor.
As in “Wait, which David? The peach one or the brown one?” for he has two friends named David.
While I will do everything in my power to ensure that his views remain this simple, I’m not naive enough to think that he won’t also learn the ways of the world from the world. At some point, he’ll be given the benefit of the doubt because he is a white boy.
I wonder whether my son would’ve gotten the same free ABA Therapy and Preschool Autism Classroom without having an Autism diagnosis if he were black. In this particular school district, he probably would have. But in DC and the surrounding areas – in this country – maybe not.
That’s a problem.
Why Saying Black Lives Matter is Better than Saying All Lives Matter
You’ve probably seen discussions on social media about the difference between #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter. I admit that when I first saw the discussion, I thought saying all lives matter made sense. Because they do. All lives matter. I believe that with all of me.
Then, I read this article, which does a great job explaining how saying all lives matter is dismissive. Here’s an excerpt:
“Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say ‘I should get my fair share.’ And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, ‘everyone should get their fair share.’ Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!”
Click over to read the full article – it changed my mind and I’d be curious about your thoughts regarding saying Black Lives Matter rather than All Lives Matter.
Either way, I think talking and discussion is the best place for us to begin to affect action.
After all, it is the people’s voices demanding change who affect change.
It is you and I and those like us who freed slaves, said yes to marriage equality, gave women the right to vote, and created programs that try to ensure that all children are given an opportunity to learn in the manner that works best for them.
It’s because we collectively spoke up that we have the freedoms that we have.
It’s time to speak up about #blacklivesmatter.
And to the kind policeman who gave me a break for having expired plates, thank you.
Please stay safe as an officer. Please stay safe as a black man.
You and all our human brothers and sisters deserve to be safe while wearing hoodies or being pulled over for traffic stops.
I know that black lives matter. You matter.