Let's presume it's October, which is breast cancer awareness month, in a year without a pandemic. All across the U.S. walking/running events are held specifically to raise money for research into and treatment of breast cancer. User profile pictures pop up with a lot of pink, and across social media is the hashtag #breastcancerawareness or #endbreastcancer.
Huh, you muse as you sit back in your comfy chair, can of Diet Dr. Pepper on the end table, all cancers are horrible. ALL CANCERS MATTER.
Well, yes, but breast cancer is the one we're focused on right now. It's the issue at hand. Deflecting to other issues is not particularly helpful and distracting from the matter can, in the long term, be harmful. Cure breast cancer, and it opens the door for unlocking cure for others. Fix one problem, and the answers to others might present themselves.
And we're back to today...
Right now, as I sit in my comfy chair with a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper next to me, there are hundreds of protests popping up across the country. Most are peaceful, some are not. There is justifiable anger and rage because a white cop held a black man down while cuffed, put his knee on his throat, and stayed there until he was dead...and then for a couple minutes after.
Of course people are pissed off.
Of course there is rage.
Of course people are acting upon that rage.
But if you sit there, while agreeing that it was a completely, morally bankrupt action on the part of that white cop, and also complain about the protests with a dismissive "But all lives matter," you are part of the problem.
Of course all lives matter, but generalities are not the current issue. The issue is oppression, racism, bigotry, systematic discrimination, and tyranny. To reduce what every black American lives through each and every day by uttering that all lives matter is to spit in their faces.
There is no equality here. People are shouting BLACK LIVES MATTER because as a whole, we have mistreated, dismissed, held down, violated, inflicted harm after harm on our black brothers and sisters, and right now THEY ARE WHAT MATTERS.
Prior to the BLM movement, you never, not once, heard "Well, all lives matter." You didn't hear it because it didn't need to be said, and when you finally did hear it, it was an offensive dismissal of a very real problem.
And be honest. You meant "White lives matter."
Don't even try to argue it. You know you did. Gasp, clutch your pearls, get your panties in a wad, sit down, and then get over it.
Right now, because we have so monumentally screwed up civil rights, equal rights, and basic humanity, the cry is and should be BLACK LIVES MATTER.
We'll get to your sensitives later.
And before you utter, "But the riots. Those aren't protests, they're crimes," consider that it's possible to understand WHY people are rioting while also believing it's not the right thing to do. And accept the truths of the rioting and looting: much of it was started by white people--another white cop, even, who basically threw the first punch when he covered his face with a gas mask and then broke a window at an Auto Zone--and a huge number of the looters are white people using this as an opportunity to commit crimes that will be blamed on black people.
If you had to live your life tip-toeing around everyone else around you, gritting your teeth with every "yes, sir," being stopped by a cop for taking a walk in your own neighborhood; if you ever had to sit on your son's bedroom floor crying while he slept because you don't know how to keep him safe as a young black man growing up in this country...well, then you would probably get it. You would feel that rage, your lifetime of being pressed down, and you would fully understand when it explodes in others.
If you don't get it, pay closer attention, and you might find the compassion that allows you to understand it. Not agree with it, necessarily, but understand it.
Figure out a way to be an ally instead of an adversary. Because if you don't, if we don't, it won't be long until there's another George Floyd, dying while other people stand around waiting for someone else to do something.