Saturday, August 12, 2017
Your lives matter. Yes. Yes they absolutely do.
I thought maybe you would understand that without me saying it out loud because laws, customs, rights and privileges in the US have always reinforced this message. Since the arrival of the white man on American soil, you've been top dog, most important and all powerful.
There has never been a time where you were not eligible to hold public office in this country.
Now we have women and people of color and transgender people and all kinds of different folks holding public office. This doesn't mean that you don't matter. It means that other people matter, too.
You have been raised in a society that has historically accepted blonde hair and blue eyes as the ultimate symbol of beauty.
Now we have TV shows, beauty contests and billboards telling us that people with darker skin or kinky hair or almond-shaped eyes are also beautiful. This doesn't mean that you don't matter. It means that other people matter, too.
You have never had to protest or fight to earn your right to vote. You've always had that right.
Now women and people of color also have the right to vote. This doesn't mean that you don't matter. It means that other people matter, too.
You've never been forced to sit in the back of the bus, drink from a different water fountain, or enter the movie theater via the back entrance.
Now people of every color have full rights to enjoy public spaces and privileges once reserved just for white people. This doesn't mean that you don't matter. It means that other people matter, too.
Hear this truth: You matter. Historically your place and privilege in this country has reinforced this message over and over and over. I'm not here to tell you any different. You still matter.
What people of color, women, disabled, LGBTQ, and every other "different" American would like you to know, hear and understand is that THEY matter. Historically their place and lack of privilege in this country has reinforced the opposite message over and over and over.
In this country, for a white man to loudly insist that they matter is an unnecessary redundancy. American history books are filled to the brim with stories that reinforce this truth. YES. You matter. Nobody is disputing that fact.
What is currently up for discussion is the fact that others matter, too. Also. Both. Equally.
This narrative is new and uncomfortable because it might feel like those people are trying to tell you that you're somehow less-than, or not valuable, or you don't matter.
This response is a little like someone with a hangnail complaining about the pain while their friend undergoes a root canal without anesthesia.
Yes, the hangnail is a little painful. But let's put things in perspective, shall we? How annoyed is your friend getting the root canal when you're saying "What about me?? What about my pain? I'm suffering too!!"
So, white lives matter. But friends. Please. When you say that to a culture, a race, a gender, or a religious group that has been told with words and actions over successive generations that they do NOT matter....you aren't getting any sympathy or support. Nope. None.
Hangnail. Root canal.
Always been eligible to vote? Always been able to hold public office? Never been denied a job because of your skin color? Never been refused enrollment at college because of your gender? Relatives never been owned as property? Never had to practice your religion in secrecy? Good for you. Clearly you matter. Without even saying so.
Many of our friends haven't enjoyed this legacy of privilege, but they matter. THAT is why we say it out loud. Because it hasn't been said before. Throughout the history of our nation, our words and actions have said the exact opposite.
You are not less than.
So please don't be afraid to support your neighbors when they speak this truth about themselves.