Wanting To Understand

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is one that has been talked about, debated, and mostly misunderstood.

I have heard other white people talk about the concept as if it is a competition…

What skin color matters the most?

Wrong question.

We can not and should not ignore the past.

Nor can we ignore the present.

It’s only by looking at the past and present that the future will be different.

My city is populated by a majority of white skinned people.  We also have a sizeable African-American and Latino population.  Neither is as big as Detroit or Miami.

Our city schools are immensely diverse. High school E.S.L. classes (English as a Second Language) often have over 100 different languages natively spoken by those students each week.

I thought we are a melting pot.  But we’re not.  At least as much as I wish.

In the past couple of years I have had neighbors who were black and Hispanic. But they were the minority and the intermingling of families hasn’t happened.

30 years ago when I worked in Detroit, I had more friends, co-workers and neighbors who were black than I have now.  I had hope for a color-blind generation (my kids) who came home one day after playing with the neighbors kids and remarking that, “Josiah is black.”  It wasn’t a racist comment or even a judgement.  Her comment was simply an observation, like “7 is a prime number.”  She doesn’t remember the conversation because it was no big deal, but her parents remember it.

I recall thinking that I was raising my kids to be non-judgemental and un-prejudicial which I believe they are.

But despite this outlook, they have had different life experiences based solely on their skin color.

My kids and I myself will never be judged by the majority as suspicious or inferior because of our appearance.  If we are afraid of the cops, it’s because we were driving too fast or some other legitimate reason to be pulled over.

I really never thought of white privilege because I’ve had to work hard for stuff.  But as I look around I really don’t need to defend myself that way because it’s not a competition.

There are no laws or rules that can change human hearts.

It has to happen one at a time, person to person.

(There are some laws and rules that need to be revoked that allow or promote division.)

My saying #BlackLivesMatter is simply to promote a fairness and equity that I wish people of all skin colors believed… that skin color is not a way to judge someone.   Yes, #AllLivesMatter but that’s often used to counter the #BlackLivesMatter concept.

In every movement there are going to be extremist and unfortunately the bad ones get all the attention.

You and I have a power we did not have before in communicating on social media and not simply having to remain left in the dust when injustices happened to us or around us.

I really want to understand, but I also want to be part of the solution.

I believe that each generation will make improvements in race relations, but it takes both activity and time to change habits and attitudes.

One last thought.  A correction on something I used to say and I mentioned earlier in this article.  The concept of being color-blind pertaining to judging people by their skin color isn’t really the concept I want to promote because that use of color-blind is often mis-characterized as not seeing the differences.

Embrace the differences instead.  Learn from our differences.  Accept the differences, just don’t judge based on ethnic background.

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