Black Lives Matter
Today it came to my attention that perhaps my silence in the matter might be confused as my not being an ally.
This could not be further from the truth. I am breaking my silence today so there can be no confusion.
I stayed silent for two main reasons.
1.) Black Lives Matter-ing is nothing new to me.
Injustice was far from beginning with the brutal and senseless murder of George Floyd. Because of the prevalence of the tiny cameras we all carry in our pockets now, we can all see these tragedies in real time. Uncensored. They are not new happenings, the only thing that is new is our being able to record and share them with unprecedented speed.
Trayvon Martin was about the age my own son was when he was murdered purchasing Skittles. Although I worry all the time about my children, I know I never had to have the same conversations mothers of black sons had to have.
What they should or should not wear while jogging, going to the store to buy candy or even just walking down the street in their own neighborhoods.
What to do and say while driving if they got pulled over so the officer wouldn’t pull out a gun.
Where’s the safety for our sisters and brothers of color? Who do they call when they are being profiled or abused by a law enforcement officer?
Another thing I want to touch on is the people who say “if you don’t break the law, you’ll be okay” this is total nonsense.
Here are some less extreme examples of what happens in areas right outside of NYC.
Two towns over in a very wealthy, predominantly white, CT suburb a prominent local physician is dining out at a restaurant with his wife and baby. Baby needs a new diaper and dad pops out to the parking lot to grab a diaper for baby. He opens the door to his luxury car, gets the diaper bag and begins to walk back into the restaurant. Within minutes, he is surrounded by police officers demanding they see proof of that being his car. Dad left his wallet with said proof inside his blazer pocket which is still in the restaurant with wife and baby.
They cuff and detain him until wife becomes concerned because he’s been gone too long and finds him sitting in the back of a patrol car, devastated, embarrassed, angry, and ashamed. What was this man’s crime? Being black and owning a luxury car in a white neighborhood.
The most important man in my life is my husband Mike, who happens to be a black man. When he purchased a Mercedes, I had to worry that he would be pulled over for the same reason. He jokingly calls this “crime” DWB (Driving While Black) but it's not funny.
A white female friend was in a park after hours with her friend, a black man sitting in his car talking. An officer approaches the car and asks them both to step out of the vehicle. Officer asks white woman if she’s in any danger, once assured she was not, he tells them they are free to go.
My husband was throwing garbage into the dumpster of our complex where we had lived for more than 3 years at the time. He was stopped by a neighbor telling him only residents can use that dumpster and did he live here. That never once happened to me.
I am very aware everyday of the contrast between the privilege my skin tone affords me vs the oppression of his.
We’ve cried together over countless injustices in our country and other countries that were based on the color of a person’s skin.
2.) The other reason I stayed silent was that I didn’t want to seem like I was jumping on any bandwagon to use Black Lives Matter for my own benefit.
It was clear to me that many large companies and brands used the opportunity to suddenly appear to become non-racist. While I am thrilled that there is a shift in consciousness to include people of color in the forefront of the minds of the mainstream, those of us who have always been there are wondering what took you so long.
So here it is. I am a white ally with a black husband and a mixed family. All lives cannot matter until our Black sisters, brothers, friends and neighbors are no longer being profiled, brutalized, targeted, murdered, disproportionately arrested, lynched, followed in stores, the list goes on. We cannot simply forget or move past something that is still happening now.
This is not about me though. Whatever discomfort we white allies may be feeling during this time, imagine what it feels like to live everyday in a skin tone that you cannot hide. It is not okay to look the other way. We must speak up and be the change we want to see in the world. The time is now.
What I am doing and will do
What can you do? Open your minds and hearts to learn and grow, even if you don’t think you are racist, you can do more.
Support Black Owned Businesses.
Follow Shaun King on Social Media or sign up for his emails or listen to his podcast “The Breakdown with Shaun King- there are always actionable steps he mentions that we can take locally
Check out blacklivesmatter.com
If you hear or see something racist shut it down, be an ally, stand with someone, record the interaction, etc
Educate yourself about Black history
I’d love to hear other suggestions too.
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