The “Say Their Names” memorial of crosses with the names of black people who have died during police encounters, previously in Freeland and now on display at St. Hubert’s Church in Langley, has stimulated a repetition of the All Lives/Black Lives discussion in our community.
All Lives Matter is about the sanctity of life, about striving to a standard of equity for all and acknowledging the challenges of that process.
Black Lives Matter is about black people dying from police interactions at a rate 2.8 times higher than white people. It is about George Floyd speaking with civility as a knee pressed on his neck for eight minutes and his words providing no benefit.
Black Lives Matter is about racism and the failure to meet the standard of All Lives Matter.
When conversation is redirected from “black” to “all” it depreciates a valid issue.
After first watching the abbreviated segments of the George Floyd video I thought I didn’t need to expose myself to the entire eight minutes; I thought I understood, too many unjust deaths, things needed to change.
Then I thought again. If black people have to contend with this specter every day could I not once watch eight minutes?
After watching I reflected on my life. In my career as a registered nurse, I had worked for and with people of color frequently and had volunteered in several countries assisting clinics serving the impoverished.
My involvement with people of color was not inconsequential, yet after the video there seemed a missing element. What percent of my life had been actively engaged with examining and addressing the deformity of racism?
I had to admit, it was not that much.
Privilege, supremist, racism … these words sting, but they are also complex. Though the first inclination is to swat or turn and flee, they warrant examination.
Authors Robin J. DiAngelo, “White Fragility,” and Ibram X. Kendi, “How to be an Antiracist,” as well as many others have dedicated their lives to help us understand these complexities.
They’ve helped me begin this journey revealing roads I have passed traveling too fast with my attention on other things.
It’s always harder for me backing up, steering by looking in a mirror, but sometimes that is what takes you where you need to be.
Donald J. Miller