My Mom was fiercely passionate about being a friend to all of God’s children without discrimination. She was born to an American father and a Japanese mother 14 years after World War II ended. 14 years after Japanese Americans were released from concentration camps in the United States. Her eyes would shift to the floor, as her jaw clenched, when she would recall the out lashings of hate she experienced as a child. Bless her for choosing to mold that pain into a steadfast mission of passing on a perspective of inclusion. Recalling my colorful childhood, I never would have imagined my narrow impression of race was naive. Until I moved to Louisiana.
I made a friend the year before I left Baton Rouge who left an imprint on my heart that has yet to fade. She is to blame for my self-confidence and inclination to fight. I insisted she come over to my house and get ready for an evening out. This took days of convincing her that she was welcome in my parent’s home, which I found comical knowing my Mom’s opinions. But when I saw her in her car giving herself a pep talk before walking up the driveway to my house… She was terrified to knock on the door. She was filled with fear to even be stepping foot in my yard. When my Mom reached out to embrace her, I swear the color drained from her face. She told me that her instincts kicked in and she braced herself for my Mom to hit her. And that is why Black Lives Matter to me. Her friendship went beyond any other relationship I have ever had. I regret one thing about leaving Louisiana and it is missing out on being a part of her life.
I worked for community corrections in Denver before I started my current career path as a jester in Annabeth’s court. The inmates of color never seemed to relax in the chair and accept the care being provided. Knuckles wrapped around the arm rest and eyes analyzing each movement, as if anticipating an ambush. Now that’s not to say that white people didn’t get nervous too. The minority inmates had a gentleness that reminded me of a child longing to be loved by someone who causes them immense pain. There was an expectation that they would receive lesser quality or even harmful care. I would talk to them and look them in the eyes. Smile and ask what their children’s names were when tears streamed down their faces because they missed their families. Yes, all lives matter but black lives are hurting. They are scared because they run into people who treat them less than human on a regular basis.
In Colorado, I saw this translate to the Hispanic community too. So. Much. Racism. Here’s where I start to deviate. The “All Lives Matter” slogan is ignorant and redundant, in my opinion. All Lives Matter is EXACTLY the point that the protestors are trying to make. You certainly cannot sum up an entire explanation in a catchy phrase but they are voicing their discontent for people of color being treated as if they DO NOT matter. I’m going to put this in the best way that my white privilege status allows: I hate nothing more than when a mother scoffs at my struggle as an exclusive pumper. She breastfed and her circumstance protected her from the reality I survived for 14 months. Maybe there were extenuating circumstances. Maybe pumping came easily for others. Maybe I used drugs. Maybe I had an arrest record. But why think less of me? Should my trauma be marginalized because you can relate on one aspect of my story? Try a little empathy. Nothing should matter except the fact that I endured something difficult. Give me a hug! What if you were in countless situations when someone put you in a box with a single glance and proceeded to act on hate? Whether it be because of skin color, gender, orientation, status, or even that guy who keeps cooking fish in the microwave, we should all be banding together to support every single person who encounters discrimination.
Racism exists across the board on varying levels for every single one of us. If you claim to see past skin color, then let’s get fired up when we see injustice and take a stand. Keep a color-coded chart of each incident and let me know how lopsided that rainbow looks. Regardless of the murderer or victim’s race, we should be outraged. If you aren’t comfortable speaking up for Black Lives Matter, start a campaign to enforce stricter repercussions for our community defenders who have a history of abusing their power. (By the way, this entire situation should make you uncomfortable.) Speak out against the unions that protect officers who prove time and time again that they are not dedicated to protecting the citizens they serve. Be aware of local events and commit to being perceptive when you are in public. Showing support can be as simple as witnessing a nasty comment and offering an unsolicited kind word. Be human. We are here to love and be loved. Give the rest to God.