I am stepping back into the blog waters after a much needed staycation and time to recalibrate as I get ready to embark upon some seismic shifts in my personal and professional life. Shifts that includes a sabbatical of sorts from my life partner and being the chief architect of restructuring an almost half-century-old organization against the national backdrop of racial change.
Change is hard; change is never comfortable, and we fight it like hell because comfort is often found in the status quo, yet one person’s “comfort” is another person’s hell. During my time away from this space as I pondered the logistics of my own life while staying tuned into the national happenings, I found myself noticing the similarities as well.
As the Black Lives Matter movement starts to mature and find its own voice, it is also starting to receive nasty pushback as those opposed to the movement are seeking to equate the rallying call of Black Lives Matter as nothing more than thinly veiled hate speech in the wake of several recent tragedies where white lives were taken at the hands of Black people. Vester Lee Flanagan took the lives of two former co-workers on live television and in a rambling manifesto he released before taking his own life, he alluded to a history of racial bias and the Charleston tragedy as the catalyst for his heinous actions. In Texas, Shannon Miles, a Black man, carried out an execution-style shooting on a sheriff’s deputy, Darren Goforth, who was simply gassing up his vehicle. A crime so senseless that it led Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman to state that “Cops Live Matter” and that the qualifier of Black Lives Matter needs to stop.
The senseless loss of life is tragic and it shouldn’t happen and while a few disgruntled Black people have carried out crimes against white people, the stats overall are that most violent crimes occur intraracially, not between races. Period. Furthermore, as tragic and heinous as these acts were, it doesn’t negate the fact that in America, Black people have historically been seen as and treated as less than whites. A holdover from the days of the founding of this nation where the web of inequity was started and still thrives today.
Black Lives Matter as a movement and, as a slogan, seeks to create a just world where the value of Black people will one day been seen as equal to all others because, at present, it is not. Black Lives Matter isn’t about elevating Black people but about long-overdue parity that will create a system where Blacks are not disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, too often for crimes that earn white people a slap on the wrist. In the era of mass incarceration where whole communities have been decimated by draconian laws created by the Reagan and Clinton administrations, we can now acknowledge this imbalance is real with very real implications for an entire group of people.
Yet as more and more people are starting to see that discrepancy, specifically white people, the pushback will grow and may even threaten the long-term movement if people can’t withstand the pushback. Yet I am heartened by the youth leading the charge even when I don’t always agree with every action. Change is messy and sometimes there will be missteps. Even the occasional step or two backward. It’s all a part of the process. To acknowledge that Black Lives Matter is to acknowledge that change must happen and that change may not always feel good but it is needed.
So, as I watch the national movement and struggle for equity continue, I take the lessons from the movement and apply them to my own personal life, that my life has value and that in my quest to seek peace, it won’t always make sense and that there will be pushback but that it is part of the process of long term change. Sometimes we must disrupt the status quo.
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