by Ammie Bryant
Black Lives Matter. Of course, all lives matter, but until Black Lives Matter, we cannot say that ALL lives matter can we? I’ve seen analogy after analogy put forward to help explain this concept. If your neighbor’s house is on fire, you call the fire department to put it out, you don’t crow “But what about MY house! All Houses Matter!” when your own house is not in danger of burning to the ground. No one ever said that ONLY Black lives matter, just that it is our Black brothers and sisters who are hurting and need our help. They’ve needed that help for far too many years to count.
We do not live in a post-racist society. The reality is that systemic racism remains a problem and even as the protests spread across this country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, these protests have also swept across the world. Systemic racism is everywhere and until we all learn to recognize it and call it out and work to change it, we will never overcome it.
As a white woman, I have not felt like I had the right to address this topic beyond declaring my own allyship and calling out racism when I recognize it. But I have come to understand that it is not enough to simply state that I am not a racist nor does it help to claim color-blindness. I have always thought the claim of “color-blindness” was disingenuous anyway. We must see other people as a whole including their race or ethnicity because this affects their point of view, their culture, and their experiences in the world. And while I have seen plenty of hardship, the color of my skin has never added to my struggles in life. Black and Brown people cannot say the same thing. That is what white privilege is about.
As an ally, I must make every effort to educate myself on the topic of race and racism and work to root it out even in the spaces of my own life where I may not have recognized it before. And as a wife and mother, I must also make sure to have deep and meaningful conversations on this topic with my family to help guide all of us in our own growth as allies. And we must be more than just allies, we must be anti-racist.
As a historian, 2020 feels like a real tipping point for this country. When one studies history, one sees that change often comes slowly, in increments, before making giant leaps forward in the wake of a major catalyst that serves as a pivot point. This year feels very much like one of those pivotal points.
This is not a political statement. It’s about peace, love, and human decency. Black Lives Matter.