My first glimpse of inspiration happened in the year of 1999, or somewhere around there. Whatever, I was in the fourth grade and we were learning about Martin Luther King Jr. I am sure that we learned his name before this, but this is the first time I really listened and understood. I was soo inspired I wrote an essay that landed a spot in Silver Lake Elementary School Yearbook Yea – I was proud. I even came home and hand wrote copies of my essay for every person in my family.
I was inspired by this man. He fought for his people – my American brothers and sisters who were oppressed. I remembered being appalled that anyone could be treated so poorly, especially black people. But look what the civil rights did! They beat it! We overcame hatred! I mean, it was 1999 – racism didn’t exist!
At least it didn’t in my fourth grade mind.
Or my 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th. Actually, I wasn’t really aware of modern day racism until recently.
When all of this #blacklivesmatter stuff started to sprout up all over the country, I kept thinking that it was dramatic. There is no way that it can be this bad. It’s 2013, racism is over. But as I watched the news filled with the lives of killed black people, I wept. I wept for my fellow citizens. I wept that I have been so ignorant to these truths. Here I am, a white girl, who thought the past was in the past. And a lot of it is. I am so proud of our country and our culture for taking steps in the right direction.
But is it enough? When I talk to people about this, white people, they say that “black people are being dramatic” and that “slavery was over a hundred years ago. get over it” (Side note: Why don’t we say get over it to things such as the holocaust or 9/11? they were both equally terrible, and we ‘never forget’ as we shouldn’t, but it’s interesting. Isn’t it?)
But I have a problem with this. A massive problem with this. When I learned about Martin Luther King Jr., I always hoped that if I were alive during his time, I would choose the right side. The side that stood for equality among blacks and whites and supported black excellence. That I would partake in the protests and really love on these people who shouldn’t be defined by their skin colour (NEWSFLASH, it’s beautiful anyway). I also saw white people who didn’t realise what they were doing. Who would look back at their behaviour and be so upset with themselves because they didn’t see the whole picture.
So when I hear arguments against #blacklivesmatter, I choose to fight for it. I choose to look at history and I choose to not repeat it. Listen to people of colour, listen to their stories and the things they have faced. It’s something I won’t relate to.. because I never have to worry about looking like a thief based on the colour of my skin alone. I don’t fear that a police officer is going to get over touchy with me for a simple traffic violation. These things are happening. These things are real. Please don’t ignore it.
“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Martin Luther King Jr.