Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter is not a movement only relevant to law enforcement; at its core it forces all people to consider inconsistencies and inequalities in the way black citizens are treated by others, generally due to unfair and deeply ingrained assumptions, biases, and fears (both acknowledged and unconscious). There is added pressure on law enforcement to take special care with this precisely because they are tasked with protecting all citizens, and thus they hold a particularly potent – and potentially deadly - sort of power over others. Black Lives Matter is about shining a bright light on the truth of inequality in our country so that it can be recognized for what it is, which is the first step in the healing process.
In my experience, many of the people who use terms like “playing the race card,” “All Lives Matter,” and “liberal agenda,” fundamentally misunderstand - and at worst diligently refuse to understand - the reality of racism as it manifests in our society.

Racism is one of the greatest banes of our existence. The worst part is that so much of it is subtle, and unless experienced or witnessed first-hand, many instances can be - and often are - easily brushed off (by those fortunate enough not to have to face it every day) as exaggeration, misunderstandings; treated with skepticism; taken with a grain or two of salt. The truth is that racism is real, it is vibrant, it is pervasive, and it is easily fed. Each one of us is charged with a sacred responsibility to acknowledge it, understand it, and do something about it.

If you don’t know, don’t understand, don’t see it or feel it, that’s okay. But rather than criticize or minimize the importance of this movement, challenge yourself to ask questions. If you’re willing to consider other perspectives, you might be quite surprised to realize how deeply the roots of prejudice have entangled themselves within so many contexts and domains of our lives. It will do so much more for the well-being of our country to be willing to compassionately consider other realities, as opposed to insisting that there is no problem at all.

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