Let me preface this by saying that I am a middle-aged white American male. I was raised in a predominantly white neighborhood. I made my first Black friends in college and afterwards in the workplace. And I know that I might as well be one of the poster children for White privilege.
In my heart, I believe that all lives matter. I was raised to treat everyone with respect, “from the janitor to the CEO,” though I hate that particular turn of phrase. Kindness matters. Meritocracy matters. Empathy matters. Actions speak louder than words and I am always listening.
But even with all of those ideals, I have come to see how #AllLivesMatter does a disservice to #BlackLivesMatter. All lives DO matter, but that does not change the fact that some people judge others based on the color of their skin and see them as lessers. Black lives are disproportionately harder in our country. Period.
I have heard tales from friends and acquaintances of being pulled over or stopped on the street just for being Black. Questioned or looked suspiciously upon on the way out of a store just because you’re Brown. Or had your word doubted simply because you met some vague description rattled off by a scared white person.
Though I’ve never seen those things with my own eyes, I don’t doubt that they exist. Even if I hadn’t heard those tales, the media is painting a pretty dark picture of race relations these days and our country’s leaders aren’t doing much to help.
We have friends on both sides of this divide. Police. Protesters. And I can only hope that things stay civil. I know they haven’t been civil in some places and both sides have done wrong. There’s plenty of blame to go around even though it helps nothing move toward any kind of reconciliation or promise for such.
I am heartbroken, like so many others. I said this week that it seems we’re on the corner of Disappointment and Despair wondering which direction to turn. But no one thing is going to solve this problem created by generations of abuse going back to the founding of our country. No one thing can right the wrongs or fix it overnight.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Never one for crowds or shouting, I have been listening and watching for ways to help in some small way. Hoping that a cautious step forward is better than none at all.
To ensure that Black voices are not only heard but that I keep listening, I’m reaching out and seeking voices to support. I ordered a copy of the Haunted West project from Chris Spivey from Darker Hue Studios that features stories I haven’t heard and a community working towards telling them. I am seeking artists, writers, and other creators whose work to support publicly and privately so that I can learn from them whatever I can. And I am always willing to listen and learn.
All lives matter, but I hope that each cautious step we take moves us forward to close the gaps any way we can so that we’re all eye to eye and seeking common ground. We’re all human.