I am black. My husband is white. My daughter is half white. Nearly half of my extended family is white. I receive conflicting responses, or even silence, when I talk to about issues that matter to me such as systemic racism, Black Lives Matter, body positivity and reproductive rights. It may seem contradictory that I am a pro-choice, Jesus-following feminist. Aren’t some of those ideologies conflicting?
I say no. What these ideologies have in common is the belief we are all important and are worthy of being treated respectfully. I care about life. All lives. Saying that Black Lives Matter does not negate this fact. When I declare that Black Lives Matter, I am attempting to bring attention to the sad fact that society as a whole acts as though black lives don’t matter. I mean, everyone loves black culture, black music, black physical characteristics but, when push comes to shove, the actual lives of black people seem to be dispensable.
Statistically, “black communities have higher poverty rates, suffer from poorly funded schools and are more likely to be targeted by police.” But isn’t education supposed to be the great equalizer? And don’t poor people choose to be poor? And, the police are in those communities because there’s so much crime there? But there’s more to it than just that. There are systemic issues that impact access to education. Lack of education plays a significant role in poverty rates. And, many times, crime is directly related to education and poverty. While high crime rates can be directly tied to poor education and poverty, one could also make an argument that increased police presence could result in higher crime rates simply because when you are constantly looking for something, you’re more likely to find it. Definitely not simple.
I realize that I alone will not be able to “fix” all of the things that I think are wrong in America but that doesn’t mean that I will be apathetic. Posting on FB is unlikely to change the opinions of the people who (I think) need to expand their thinking and it won’t even provoke them to consider or to think about issues from a different point of view. I won’t have the opportunity to kneel during the national anthem to prove a point. What I will be able to do is listen to understand. I can wear my Black Lives Matter shirt and be open to having very, very tough discussions. I can pray for openness on my part and I can love without expecting anything in return. I can stay true to myself even though many people in my life don’t think that racism is “a thing.” I can teach my daughter about her history. Her full history of both black and white heritage. I can do my best to raise a confident person who can think her own thoughts and express them fully. Who can see color and realize its beauty. Who can see differences and realize that those differences are not meant to divide us.
You can do something, too. You can purchase a Black Lives Matter shirt (pictured below). You can check out Rachael’s blog regarding our fundraiser. You can open yourself to tough discussions. Start small. Start here. Start now.