Last week, I posted a simple graphic on social media in support of the #BLM movement–and I experienced some backlash. This is my response.
Born white, I will never have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a person of color in the United States—and, due to that perspective, it took me decades to even begin to understand their plight, particularly because I didn’t grow up in a diverse environment. It wasn’t until I was much older and wiser (thanks to lots of amazing books coupled with great relationships and varied experiences) that I realized I hadn’t had a clue.
I’ve had friends debate me about “Black Lives Matter,” countering that “ALL lives matter” or “Blue Lives matter” and that sort of rhetoric. Unfortunately, those statements are missing the point. The Black Lives Matter movement is not about devaluing other lives but about drawing attention to a serious problem in our country that stems from systemic racism—and a good many of us don’t see it. I’m not pointing any fingers, because for the first half of my life, I didn’t, either.
I’ve heard some great analogies for Black Lives Matter versus the “All Lives Matter” counterpoint, and it goes something like this. Let’s say that Burning Houses Matter, and someone at the end of my block says, “No, ALL Houses Matter.” Well…that may be fine, but my f*cking house is burning and I need the Fire Department to come put out the fire. If they stop and spray water on every house that’s not burning before they get to mine, well…I’m sure you get the point. My house will burn to the ground while the houses that didn’t need attention got something they didn’t need. That’s the idea behind Black Lives Matter—it’s not saying that all lives don’t matter. Instead, it’s saying, “Look. Here’s a big problem that we need to fix. Please help us fix it.”
So why did I make this image my profile pic and banner now?
I’ve kept my mouth shut for years, wanting to keep politics and personal beliefs out of my writing business, mostly because I never want to alienate any of my readers, many of whom have become friends over the years. Besides, lots of times, you believe what you believe; I believe what I believe; and there will be no changing of opinion, no matter what the exchange. So let’s keep it light and friendly. But the past few years have been particularly dark from where I stand and I’ve bit my tongue more than I’ve spoken. At last, though, I can no longer in good conscience not say anything. I will not get up in your face about it, but I want there to be no question about where I stand. If that means you must unfollow me or stop reading my books, that’s fine. But don’t try to change my mind. I already changed it half my life ago. If one of my friends is bleeding, I’m going to tend to her first, and my other friends are just going to have to understand. They, too, are important and I also love them dearly—but I need to care for the one being harmed first.