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Black Lives Matter

“Don’t wanna be that white dude Million-Man marching.”

That lyric has gone through my head every time I’ve thought about writing this post. In fact the bulk of this post has been sitting in the hopper for about 2 months. It’s awkward to talk about.

(For those readers who aren’t aware, I’m a boring white guy heading into middle age.)

I don’t remember exactly when I saw the Black Lives Matter phrase. I probably saw the hashtag whenever it first trended. I just remember thinking, “Well sure, all lives matter.”

And don’t they?

“They should just say All Lives Matter”, I thought to myself. I knew something was off there, but I couldn’t say what at first.

“Black Lives Matter” was just a little offensive. Somehow the back of my brain interpreted that as “Black Lives Matter MORE”. I think by singling out a group and saying “this is important”, it somehow comes across as superior. It took me a while to understand.

I’m all over the place politically, but in recent years I’ve found a lot of alignment with the left. I’ve never once felt comfortable calling myself a liberal (or worse, progressive) in no small part because of the “woo”. You know the woo. You have to say things the right way. You have to feel the right feelings, usually guilt or self-hatred. You have to support whatever is the cause du jour. I’m not big on woo, and #blacklivesmatter had some of that woo feeling at first.

I have a lot of liberal friends and acquaintances though, so I did as I often do about these matters: I shut the fuck up about it. Social media fights are just not my cup of tea.

But as the weeks went by I got more used to seeing the phrase. As more stories came out about black folks being abused and killed by police, something started to click.

Nothing mysterious happened, I just realized that Black Lives Matter is about a relationship. Sometimes in a relationship you can “know things” but they still aren’t felt. I know I love my wife. I know she loves me. But sometimes we need to hear it. Sometimes you feel like things have slipped away. You feel like you aren’t valued. You aren’t wanted. You aren’t loved.

All lives matter. That’s a fact. But it’s not what people need to hear right now.

Right now people need to hear Black Lives Matter and – more importantly – know that it is truly felt and meant.

“Don’t wanna be that white dude Million-Man marching.”

Still, understanding something, or at least forming my own understanding, is only one step. What to do after that?

Sorry Ass White Folks

Well, whatever it is, it’s not this. I’m sure these folks mean well, but this seems like more white liberal paternalism (which is its own systemic problem). It’s not about you, dear bleeding hearts. It’s about the few bad apples in positions of power, and it’s about the system that tolerates abuse, and it’s about the victims of that abuse.

I don’t have any answers, just a little more clarity than before. For me, for the time being, the job is listening.

A small point of clarity. This post is about “Black Lives Matter”, as a concept. There is also a political movement/organization under that same name. This post is not a discussion of the organization.