I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America. As a white woman, some may argue that has its own disadvantages, though I would tend to disagree. I am lucky to be able to say I’ve mostly avoided feeling “less than” because of my gender. Certainly never have I felt that way because of the color of my skin. I have never for a moment been made to feel the way many black people do on a regular basis, and so I can’t even begin to understand. All I can do is make every effort to continue educating myself and learning from the atrocities of the past.
While I didn’t grow up wealthy or particularly privileged, just being white in America makes me privileged. I may not have had things handed to me, but I didn’t have them kept from me either. That’s a point that many of us need to reconcile in our own minds – growing up as a white person without great means is still vastly different than growing up black.
I recently watched the film 13th, which shared that 1 in 3 black men will be incarcerated in their life time. As a young child – likely after too many episodes of Law & Order – being wrongfully convicted of a crime occasionally crossed my mind. What’s scary is that this fleeting thought for me is an actual concern for those who are black.
I’ve been considering what to say as I’ve watched the turmoil unfold in the United States. While one voice doesn’t change the world, all our voices collectively can make a difference.
There are many aspects of this situation in which I’ve struggled with how to best respond. What I most want to shout from the rooftops is that the movement of Black Lives Matter in no way minimizes the value of other lives.
What’s stuck with me through all of this is the Parable of the Lost Sheep found in Matthew 18:12-14 (and also Luke 15:3-7):
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
Many of us may have good intentions. Even the best of intentions. But the truth is, unless you are black, you will never understand what it means to be black. The system is set-up in a way that marginalizes people of color. The first step is to recognize that fact, and the next is to work towards change.
Black Lives Matter not just for a week or a month while it’s in the news and on social feeds – Black Lives Matter always. Change is necessary and it’s up to us.
Educate yourself. Speak out. Donate. Stand with the black community so they are not left standing alone.