America already knows that white people matter. My wish is that America becomes aware that people of color matter, too.
“I believe all lives matter… especially blue ones. People shouldn’t say ‘Black Lives Matter.’”
I blink twice and close my gaping mouth. My emotions take over after hearing this statement; He doesn’t know it is divisive as hell. I want to call him a string of colorful names. Instead, I bite my tongue till I think it may bleed for the sake of keeping our fragile peace for the kids.
My first thought is, Speaking those words in the context that you used them is shameful. No wonder you are my ex-husband. For a second I wonder what the hell I ever saw in him. Truthfully, I’m angry and beyond baffled by how someone could father children with a Black Woman and make a statement so dismissive of Black people’s struggles. Is he a racist? Is he so out of touch that he doesn’t know why that remark is offensive? Or does he simply need to be educated on this topic?
Hoping it’s the latter, I exhale, swallow my frustration, and attempt to make clear for him things that I believe should already be crystal. It should be understood on a human level. After all, with no Jewish ancestry I wept over the Holocaust and the ugly scar it left on history. There are some things that we just empathize with and relate to on a human level.
Racism should be one of them.
I look at him and say, “We know all lives matter. My children wouldn’t be biracial if I had an issue with thinking that all lives had value. If our eight-year-old gets sick, should the doctors help every child in the neighborhood because all kids matter? No. He focuses on the one in need. When we say Black Lives Matter we aren’t saying other lives don’t. We are reminding society that we matter too.”
It dawns on me—my ex-husband hasn’t had much experience with racism. So I try to be patient and enlighten him.
He still gives me a cold, blank stare. I fight the urge to snatch our daughter off of his lap, comb her bright red Afro out as far as it can go, and remind him that her golden brown skin isn’t a tan. Instead, I ask her to go to her room and play before I continue speaking.
“Think of all the schools you wouldn’t want your kids attending. The schools that are underfunded, that sometimes have police patrolling the hallways, and shortchange kids on education. How many of those schools are in areas where people of color live?”
His reply? “All of them.”
“So it doesn’t seem to me that society believes we matter enough to invest in educating children of color equally.” Recalling everything I know about racism in America I continue. “Some schools in wealthier, and often more Caucasian areas, have computers in the back of kindergarten classrooms, but in other districts, teachers photocopy excerpts from textbooks or spend their hard-earned cash buying pencils and trying to provide for their students’ basic educational needs.
We have a legal system that lets people like Brock Turner out after a couple of months in jail for raping an intoxicated woman because they worried for his future more than they cared about his victim. Cory Batey was a 19-year-old African American football player at Vanderbilt. He raped an unconscious woman just like Brock Turner and he was sentenced to 15-25 years in prison. If you’re African American you’re more likely to be arrested. You’re more likely to get a harsher sentence than a Caucasian person who has committed the same crime. You’re far more likely to be shot by police or suffer from brutality as well. Don’t believe me, do your own research. Countless studies, justice department investigations, and reputable news sources have confirmed these facts. Hell, people of color have been protesting racism in America for generations. Did you miss the memo on that?”
“No,” he says.
“To say, ‘All Lives Matter,’ to counteract, dismiss, and silence a group of people who have suffered too long, is awful. You walk around saying ‘Blue Lives Matter’ with pride but have an issue with the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter.’ That makes me think it’s the darker color that you take issue with. That will never be okay with me.”
Then it dawns on me—my ex-husband hasn’t had much experience with racism. So I try to be patient and enlighten him.
The reality is that most white people don’t have to fear their children being stopped and frisked or targeted for their color. They don’t have to tell their sons that most police officers are good and are more than willing to protect and serve all of us. Yet they still have to be guarded and careful because some police officers may fear them or suspect them because of biases they have about their skin color. They don’t have to teach their sons to move slowly and announce that they wish to get their driver’s license from their pocket at a traffic stop so that they don’t get shot or become a victim of police brutality. Why is that?
Because America knows that white people matter.
My greatest wish is that all of America becomes aware that people of color matter too. That we, as the great nation I truly believe we are, educate ourselves on the problems facing people of color, and acknowledge and change the gross disparity and mistreatment that POC have faced historically and today. America needs to realize that racism affects children, soldiers, veterans, citizens, and patriots just because of the color of their skin. It’s wrong. People of all colors fight to defend this country and people of all colors should be given equal opportunity within it. That belief is why Martin Luther King Jr. marched, and why Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe kneel to take a stand and say that Black Lives matter too. The question isn’t should we say Black Lives Matter. The real question is, when will we stop having to?