If you don't like things getting political and personal, well: 1) where have you been the past several issues; 2) I guess I'm not the writer for you. As a writer, my entire life is dictated by what I release into the world. It is my responsibility, even as an individual nobody, to be political and personal and stand up to injustice.
CW: mentions of racism and senseless death/violence. By the way, when I use "American," here, I specifically mean "people who live in the United States." I acknowledge that there are Americas in this side of the world.
Look into my eyes and tell me: their lives don't matter. Our lives are the only ones. Look into my eyes and say: it was their right to die.
If you are saying things like, "But all lives are--!", you are part of the problem. I know it's hard to hear and easy to get defensive, but we have to acknowledge this. No one is saying that the lives of other people don't matter. That is not the issue. The problem is that Black people are disproportionally targeted in this country. The problem is that Black people are immediate threats while others are not. The problem is that Black lives are worth less in this country than the lives of white people. This is not the time to be touting "all lives matter" because that's not the point.
The point is we have to stand up for the Black people in America because when they stand up for themselves, they get killed.
It is your job, as a white person, to stand up for people of color who are constantly demonized in this country. To check yourself when you feel an instinct or assumption about someone else's skin or appearance or abilities. To ask how you might be perpetuating the very thing that kills people without realizing it. To take a stand against bigotry and racism regardless of who it is against, and especially when it is a loved one. And as a white-passing person of color, it's my job, too. It's our job to educates ourselves and fight for POC in this country, and especially Blacks. That doesn't mean being perfect, but it does mean trying and doing better. We can all do better.
Look: this is not easy. It's not easy to stand up for the right thing. It's not easy to reconcile what society has ingrained in us for two hundred years. The right thing is rarely easy. The right thing often hurts. We have the luxury of closing our eyes, because most of us don't have our identities under attack at every moment.
"Wow, that's an exaggeration!" No, it's not. Because just being a person of color in America is a statement. Being a person of color in America means taking up the space of another that's more desired. No one should live like that. But we look for pieces of Black culture and integrate it into our own--because Black Americans are Americans. Because they are fully part of American history, and so of course they are a part of our culture.
But doing this--taking this culture and making it our own without dealing with the burden of being Black--is not okay. Here's a little example of how something like this plays out: when the news about the Rumi movie came out, for the first time in my life, I was so angry that I became exhausted. My culture and identity was being appropriated by others. The blatant disrespect for a rich people's history is infuriating. And yet, this happens to Black Americans every day.
So take that, and add with it a fear for your life, or the life of a friend or loved one, and magnify it until your body is brimming with energy. How must it be to live a life like that?
You know what's terrible? Thinking that focusing on Black Lives Matter means that we don't care about the cops that were killed in Dallas. Anger and pain at one does not detract from the other.
Cops do dangerous jobs. Cops risk their lives daily. And yes, of course not all cops are bad. But why hasn't law enforcement denounced police brutality? Why do they protect their own when all it does is engender more hate and distrust? Why are cops militarized, when the militarization of the police force as an institution is the direct cause of so much death and racism?
Tell me, would cops need to be afraid for their lives if we didn't have the right to assault rifles by our side? Would cops need to be afraid for their lives if snipers were outlawed?
This post was originally featured in a Tuesday Telegram. Every Tuesday, I send out a message that may or may not later be turned into an edited blog post.
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