I feel lucky when I know people who can say with far more eloquence than I why the phrase "all lives matter" bothers me so much. Yes. All lives matter. But we are talking about the lives that are minimized, jeopardized and flat out ended daily in ways that "all other" lives are not. It is a worry for me as a mom of kids of color. I send my strong handsome young teen off to the Big City for college with a smile on my face and worry in my heart. I watch my phone for the text that he is ready for me to pick up at the train. I worry that the natural "immortal" feeling that teens have (and yes, I remember feeling that way too) could translate into a situation far more dangerous to him than any of mine were to me.
I worry that I have not prepared him adequately enough for being black in a world that does not see him the same way it sees me. I know that to some extent my presence over the years has lent him an inadvertent corner of the white privilege blanket. He isn't likely to be accused of shoplifting if he is standing with his white mom. The same is not necessarily true if he is hanging out with skater pals in the big city. This is not to say we have not had some issues; there have been. But by and large, the world has been pretty kind to him.
I am lucky that I have friends of color because my white friends don't see what I worry about. They think "black lives matter" is obvious and that "all lives matter" is more reverential to life and speaks to inclusiveness. My efforts to explain are dismissed. "But YOUR son is so friendly and polite; nothing would happen to Rob" I hope with every facet of my being they are right. Statistics say other things though.
But a 12 year old playing in a park is not exactly a huge threat. Yet he was shot and killed without a word. My Rob is kind and smart and handsome. He also works out and hangs out with kids who skateboard and may look "sketchy" to a certain segment of the population. They will not see his smile. They will see his strength, his blackness, an implication of a threat that does not exist.If a 12 year old at play can be gunned down, what about strong 19 year olds?
Family members who love my kids have told me my worries are meaningless. That because I brought my kids up "right" I don't have to worry. They seriously think all the other instances are a result of bad parenting? Rendered speechless, I grew silent about the subject on line. And I grew angry at myself because if I as my kids parent can be rendered voiceless and powerless, how must so many other parents feel. Parents who have lost children and who have found their children vilified in the media, their home lives and values questioned.
So, yes people. BLACK lives matter. And please. Go read Kevin Hoffman at www.mymindonpaper.wordpress.com Because he says it all with much great clarity than I do.