I have resisted writing this letter to you, my brothers and sisters, as I am no better than you are. Others have written this letter, others who know more and do it more eloquently. Yet it’s important enough that it bears repeating, over and over again.
You’ve stopped staying #AllLivesMatter not because you necessarily know why, but because you know it offends. You’re not racist, or you are in the way all people are, but you’re not those people. You listen to other white people and agree secretly and silently that you’re not really sure what the fuss is about. One “bad seed” you say about a cop. Quietly you ask the question “why should all cops be punished for one man’s crimes?”
You’re struggling against your need to resist conflict and do that “listening” the black community, (the gay community, the oppressed communities) is imploring you to do. You scroll through their Facebook feeds and secretly think, “do they hate white people”? You have questions, and you want to ask them, but to be honest, now is not the time.
Here’s the advice that all have given and no one is hearing. Shut up. No really. Stop talking. Now.
We are not “all the same” we do not “all struggle” with this. I understand that someone down the line your family was oppressed by the Visigoths (probably) but now is not that time, and we do not live in that land, and let’s be honest, since then you have experienced nothing but privilege in America. I know my ancestors were indentured servants and built the railroad, but tell me, come March 17 how many people don’t now claim to be Irish?
I need you to hear something: It is NOT the same. It just isn’t. We aren’t all the same.
I will admit, I am not writing this for your own good. I am definitely not writing this to feel superior, I am writing this because my love and partner is dying inside.
He is a lover, a father, a community leader, and a pastor, he also is an African American man in predominately white spaces. He wants to care for others, it’s his nature. But right now, he cannot be your teacher. He (and so many other like him) are hated, judged, accused, and tried in this country for the color of his skin. And yes, that is a true fact. Seriously. Just accept it.
Actually start there. When he is before you and the issues of the news come up in conversation ask him how he is doing. Accept that he is hurting. Accept that the way you wanted to protect your child after Sandy Hook is the way he feels everyday about his own life and his children. Accept that every cop shooting, every protest arrest, every slander said against Malia Obama, he hears about himself, his son, and his daughter.
When these issues are mentioned, don’t tell him, “some people just don’t think” or that “some people are just stupid”. I know you care for the person before you, I do, but you dismiss his feelings this way.
Remember: The Black Community is in crisis. All of them. ALL of them. Even if you haven’t witnessed it with your own eyes, it’s still true.
So have some respect (and yes, I know you never meant disrespect) but learn to respect that this person in front of you needs to be angry, needs to have their feelings validated, and needs to mourn the centuries of wrong that has been done to him and his people. There are too many offenses to count. Keep your feelings inside and do not judge.
You’ve had your turn, it’s time to listen.