I chose this image of a table because I hope that this blog will encourage discussion. A sitting down at the table together where we can look each other in the eye and share our hearts.
It is easy for me to say, “Black Lives Matter”, because they do. Yet, it is not the tagline you will hear me declaring. I know for some this means you have already written off anything I am about to say. That is unfortunate, because I believe that you and I probably agree far more than you realize.
The words “Black Lives Matter, in its pure, apolitical form is said because there are institutionalized and situational times when people of color are treated as “less than.” This results in deaths, loss of jobs, unjust incarcerations, and multiple forms of unfair and abusive treatment by others. This leaves people of various colors living in a constant awareness of fear, anxiety, and playing an exhausting game that they cannot win. If anything is deplorable, this is. It is wrong and criminal. It should NEVER happen!
Yet, sadly it does. I know I have been guilty of doing it. Never intentionally, but because I have grown up as a caucasian female in the same broken world I just described. I have had to acknowledge these same bits of ugliness within myself. I have had to learn to call myself and others out when we participate in treating people of color as “less than”. This is a difficult task, because, as you know, it is hidden throughout our culture, our institutions, and even our automated assumptions and biases. This is downright sinful and I am committed to changing this in me while also demanding more of those around me. I will probably be fighting this battle for the rest of my life. For this I apologize. Sin is cancerous and very difficult to excise. I do not state this to excuse my behavior. Instead, I state this because I want you to know I recognize the severity of the situation even in a “good, law-abiding Christian girl” like myself.
This leads me to why saying “Black Lives Matter” is not enough. If I say “Black Lives Matter”, it still allows me to put you in one category (black) and me in another category (not black). We tried the separate but equal thing many years ago, and the civil rights movement was all about destroying the injustices that created. Psalm 139:13 and 14 says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” There are two facts that I want to point out from this passage. First, each of us have been knit together in our mother’s womb by God. Second, we are God’s marvelous workmanship all the way down to our wonderfully complex delicate inner parts. These facts are true of every single human without regard to the color of their skin. We each are human, thus we were knit together by God and are a shining example of His marvelous workmanship. Each person’s existence is to be celebrated as amazing. The color of our skin has neither makes our personhood more or less amazing. We ALL are amazing!
Since we are all God’s marvelous workmanship, some people will argue that we should be saying “All Lives Matter”. To some degree that is a true statement, but this too is not enough. One, it is often said as a defensive way to divert attention from an obvious hemorrhaging part of our society (injustice against people of color) to call for a more holistic health approach that deals with lots of problems that need fixed in our society. In turn, nothing gets fixed and those crying for help feel unheard and once again marginalized. Two, both the phrases “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” are vastly impersonal. I can say either statement, look good on social media by posting a few well chosen meme’s that boost my social standing with my peers, declare that the system must change and our politicians need to make this happen, but I personally would never have to change the way I act from day to day. Think about it. If you have said either of these statements, besides the short-term increase in flame wars you get into with people on social media and the number of meme’s you post on this topic, what will actually change in how you live your life next month or in the next year? Have you stopped to evaluate what needs to change in how you act, think, feel…or have you used this time to reinforce your current belief that you are not a racist person? Have you dug deep to see what hidden prejudices you may have that need to change and what actions you need to take to help right the wrongs of racial injustice?
I started asking myself these questions a few years ago after reading Malcom Gladwell’s book “Blink”. I realized that for myself, saying, “Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” will never be enough. In order for me to break down the prejudices in me and in society around me, I MUST make it a point to look deep into the personhood of individual people of color around me and say with both my words and my actions, “Your Life Matters.” This means that I have to start conversations with people who are different than me. This means that I have to stop using “black” or “latino” or any other color label when I describe a person if I would not have used a color label to describe a white person in that same scenario. It means I have to listen when a person of color speaks out about their experiences and then ask what I can do to effect change—then do it. I have to stop worrying that by listening to their hurts mine might get marginalized. (They won’t, by the way.) I have to stop explaining away injustices and inequalities that I see. I have to be sensitive to when I hear someone say something prejudice or when I see them acting the same—even if it is someone I love or someone who has more authority than me—then respond in a way that points out the wrong that just happened. It means I have to have the same conversations with children of color that I would have with white children and just as frequently—telling them how beautiful, smart, handsome, and clever they are while bragging on them to their parents. It means I have to allow others to speak up and tell me when I need to fix a wrong behavior or thought. I must do these things, and more which I am learning every day, because this is how we tell people “Your Life Matters.” No more excuses allowed. No more “Yeah, but they…” conversations.
You see, it is easy for me to say, “Black Lives Matter”, because they do. But I want more for me and I want more for you. I want to look into your eyes, whoever you are and see the person created in the image of God. I want to not make assumptions based on the color of your skin—whatever color it is. I want to see your heart, and know where it is breaking. I want to hear your story and then to act in genuine love. I want to know you and acknowledge you as equal to me. I do not want the luxury of throwing a few memes on social media so I look good to my friends. Instead, I want to clearly convey to you that “Your Life Matters!”
Hello! I am Dawnita Hall. Sometimes I need to put into words the things God is teaching me. This blog is my way of sharing those moments with you with the hopes that what God is using to grow and encourage me will also inspire you. Please, share your thoughts in the comment sections after each post. Let's make this a place where we work together to encourage each other to live inspired to be an inspiration.