Black Lives Matter–But Not To White People

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White People Don’t Believe Black Lives Matter

My Black friends today are in excruciating pain. And much of White America has no clue why. Jordan Edwards, a 15 year old child, was gunned down in Dallas, Texas by a police officer on Monday, May 1, 2017. He was leaving a party that he decided was feeling unsafe to him. He was in a car that was driving away when a cop shot him. With a rifle. There is no possible acceptable reason for a cop to fire a rifle into a moving vehicle that is filled with kids. We need to fix this problem of cops repeatedly murdering People of Color while White people walk away alive. Part of the reason this is happening is that White people don’t care. White people don’t believe Black Lives Matter.

Do You Know Who Jordan Edwards Is? Or Rekia Boyd?

If we did believe that Black Lives Matter, then we would do what needed to be done to stop these murders of Black people by cops. Think for a moment about how this country would respond if a White kid was murdered the way Jordan Edwards was murdered. There would be such outrage. Politicians around the country would be giving speeches about how we needed to do an investigation into how this could happen so that it never happens again. White people on Facebook would be posting about how awful it was that this kid was killed and how the system needed to be fixed. We would all be so sad for the family and mourning the loss of such a great kid for society. Yet, so many White people will have absolutely no clue who Jordan Edwards is. Or Mike Brown. Or Rekia Boyd. Or Alton Sterling. Or Tamir Rice. Or Korryn Gaines. Or Philando Castile. Or Eric Garner. How many of these names do you know? How many have you heard of before? There are so many others who could be added to that list.

White America is Afraid of Black & Brown People

We are a violent country. We live in fear. And we are especially afraid of Black and Brown people. That has an impact. And that impact is deadly. Especially when cops are involved. According to Vox, citing data from The Guardian, “…black Americans are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to be killed by police when accounting for population.” That there isn’t outrage among White Americans proves my point that White people don’t believe Black Lives Matter. This has absolutely got to change.

We Can And Must Do Better

Today, I am challenging the White people I know and myself as well to do better. We need to fix this. And the only way that is going to happen is if we decide that Black Lives Matter…and that they matter as much as White lives. How do we do that? We have to start by making up the deficit that exists in our value of Black lives. Which means we need to do more than we might do to show that all lives matter. We focus specifically on making sure that Black Lives Matter. We make it a point to know more by reading books by Black people. We make the effort to hear from more Black voices. We put energy into supporting Black-led racial justice movements and organizations, by showing up with our money and with our bodies. We invest in Black communities by supporting Black-owned businesses. We go hear Black speakers and see performances by Black artists. And we communicate regularly with our politicians to make sure they know that Black Lives Matter. And they need to make decisions that make it clear that Black Lives Matter.

I Commit To Doing Better

When we in White American finally decide that Black Lives Matter, our country will reflect that. And when we do that, we will all benefit. Because when we center the most marginalized among us, we all benefit. I am going to continue listening to and elevating Black voices. I am going to continue to contribute money and time to Black causes, businesses, and people. And I am going to continue to push my White friends and myself to grow in our understanding of racial justice and anti-Black racism by reading more books by Black people and listening more to Black people.

Won’t You Join Me?

Who is in? If you are a White person, are you willing to make a commitment to changing our communities to demonstrate in every way possible that Black Lives really do matter? I encourage you to make a public commitment by using the comments as a space where you say what you are willing to do.

If you are looking for resources, a friend posted a truly great list of ways to combat police brutality. (And wants no attribution.) I shared that info on Facebook in this post.

 

 

8 Comments on “Black Lives Matter–But Not To White People

  1. You are a gem, Heidi. I am currently in grad school and have committed to studying Black and Multi ethnic literary traditions. I start conversations with my white classmates about race, specifically white people’s role in holding the construct of white supremacy up, white fragility and privilege, unconscious biases, colorblind racism, and the white wounding caused by white supremacy. I’m studying with people from the Baha’i faith to further my knowledge of serving equality for all. I’m committed to racial healing, and will use my voice in the future as a college professor in my extremely rural, mostly white, community.

    • Thanks for being the brave soul by commenting first. It can feel so impossible to have those conversations with folks who have spent so little time doing the work. Any suggestions for others looking to have those conversations with white family and friends?

      • One thing I try to do is own my own unconscious biases and fragility. I used to be the “I don’t see color” type of colorblind racist. When I admit I’m far from perfect, I think it helps other people begin questioning their own complacency. I also try to own my privilege. Yes, I’m a woman, and fat, and socioeconomically pretty far down, and variously abled…..but I still have white privilege.
        I share what I learn with other white people, especially about the construct of white supremacy. I try to appeal to their sense of right and wrong.

  2. I commit to supporting black-owned businesses, supporting racial justice organizations, following black women on social media to listen and learn, talking to other white women about race, and teaching myself what I need to know to move our country forward. Black lives matter.

    • Indeed, they do. The hard work, I think, is convincing those White folks in our communities to do the same. White fragility is a beast to combat when folks are committed to it. I gotta say I think the “progressive” White people who are my friends and family feel intractable. It shouldn’t be so complicated to get folks to do this work. Makes me think that many feel they have much to lose and what is right does not have the pull it should. And diminishes greatly their integrity as people claiming to be social justice advocates as progressives. Sigh…

  3. I love this post, Heidi. On Tuesday, after Jordan Edwards’ murder, I cried on my way to a client’s office. Between his murder, DC politics, the ambush of two Chicago cops and baby Semaj’s death in Joliet, I simply had a moment of feeling overwhelmed by what’s happening to people these days…by how heartless some people are toward others. Fortunately, this client’s office is filled with “woke” people — white people, included. I found myself talking with a white friend about these things; Black lives do matter to her. She also was feeling sad that morning. We ended our conversation feeling better — not necessarily more sure of where we are going as a country, but with more optimism because we had shared our perspectives openly, and found comfort in our words. I wish this could happen for others more often.

    • Thanks so much for commenting. I’m glad you love the post. And I’m so sorry you have experienced such pain. It’s been a particularly brutal time for Black people…ah hell, it’s been a brutal 400 years for Black people in this country. It’s time for us White folks to do whatever we have to in order to fix this. I’m happy to hear you connected with a White person who is actively anti-racist. Wishing that you and other Black people have repeated and frequent experiences with “woke” White people. That’s the world I want to live in. It’s a much better, happier, and safer place for everyone. Because our liberation is tied together.

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