Black Lives Matter

darkness cannot drive outIn a week which began with a celebration of our country, we’ve been reminded over and over of why we’re less than perfect. Of why the scars of the past we try to hide are in fact still open wounds.

We watched Alton Sterling shot in the chest and back.

But the battles for civil rights are in the past.

We watched Philando Castile gunned down while reaching for his ID.

But the battles for civil rights are in the past.

We watched five police officers fall under a shower of bullets from above while providing protection for a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas.

But the battles for civil rights are in the past.

Yeah, we waged that war. We fought that battle. We talk about it in the past tense. “The Civil Rights Era.”

Glad we got that over with.

We slapped a Band-Aid on it. You ever seen a Band-Aid that could stay on perfectly for 24 hours? How about a year? How about fifty?

Time and again over American history, we’ve tried to slap a Band-Aid on the problem and hoped it would stick. Time and again it’s failed.

Time and again we’ve managed to convince ourselves that everything was ok, that everyone was equal, that the playing field is level. If there’s anything Americans with privilege are good at, it’s deluding ourselves.

Racism isn’t dead. Hate isn’t dead. Both are alive and well in this country, and they’re deadly.

Yeah, all lives matter. You get a gold star for pointing it out and standing up for equality or whatever. All lives matter. It’s so obvious it shouldn’t even have to be said, that’s why you’re so fired up. And you’re right, all lives matter and it is pretty obvious that they do.

You know what doesn’t seem to be obvious right now? Black lives matter too. Black lives matter, but we can’t keep up with the body count. Because, somewhere down the line, someone forgot that black lives matter.

Saying all lives matter isn’t a solution, it’s a Band-Aid. It’s a diversion. It’s a way to perpetuate the status quo while convincing yourself you’ve stood for something. It’s actually a great way of accomplishing nothing.

Black. Lives. Matter.

If our country ever knew it, we’ve forgotten it.

Black. Lives. Matter.

I’m a white straight southern male, I’m complicit in this. I am where I am as a result of racist systems geared in my favor. And I look around and see a country that refuses to accept it. A country that wants to convince itself that this truly is a place where all are created equal, and all have access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Meanwhile, the names just keep coming. From Ferguson to Cleveland to Baltimore to New York to Baton Rouge to St. Paul, etc., etc., etc.

Black. Lives. Matter.

When I started writing this, I didn’t really know what I wanted to say. I still don’t really know what I can say that will have any value. All I can say is this:

Black. Lives. Matter.

In the wake of so much death, it’s easy to hurt and then try to move on. But we can’t. We have to stand up. It’s past time to quit talking and start actually standing together and uniting. Hatred and fear of those who are different, merely because they are different, will yield nothing but pain and death. Killing will not solve it. An eye for an eye mentality will not solve it. What is needed is the recognition of the inherent worth of those around you. What is needed is an unrestrained love for all in your path.

Black. Lives. Matter.

Jesus said that just as we do to the least of these, we do to him. As long as we refuse to see the worth of black lives, tell me how they are anything but the least of these. Tell me, how are they anyone but Jesus?

Black. Lives. Matter.

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