This country needs to be the country we claim to be. If we were, there would be no need for “Black Lives Matter.” Black people are being killed for reasons we shouldn’t be killed for. And everyone should feel the emptiness and the soulful pain blacks feel. Think about this. Do you really think that the injustice perpetrated on black people will actually stop with only black victims? The death of Idaho rancher Jack Yantis, by law enforcement, proves that to be wrong. He was eating his dinner. He gets a call and minutes later he’s killed. His life mattered, too.
But please understand, “Black Lives Matter” is needed because being killed is a regular occurrence our society forces us to deal with. And because it appears to mean so little to the rest of society, we begin to fear law enforcement, rather than respect them. Fear is a stage before rage. Then, what happens when we try to deal with our fear and rage? Our perspective gets watered down with something like “All Lives Matter.” Only a heartless fool would not understand that “All Lives Matter.” We want to be included in “All Lives Matter.” So stop killing us like our lives don’t matter. Until that happens, we have to shout “Black Lives Matter” as loud as we can. But it doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter.
Our country needs to be honest about the racism and hatred, or it’ll never improve. It will be people, not laws, that will undo racism. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” This is what is written on the Statue of Liberty. Do we still believe this? The concept of “Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” isn’t a new concept. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” The truth of the matter is black people had to scream to have a special amendment added, because those great words of the Declaration of Independence didn’t include us. In fact, many of the men who wrote those great words went back to their plantations and slaves. Before that they killed off many Native Americans. Now their descendants want to turn back the tired, poor and huddled masses of refugees who, like their forefathers, are fleeing tyranny of lands less blessed than America.
I know there are a lot of people who think black people want some kind of an advantage. You’re wrong. We’re still fighting for the playing field to be leveled. Many people think racism went away when President Barack Obama was elected. That’s not true, either. In fact, a lot of conservative people have the attitude, “we gave you your black president, and that’s all you’re gonna get.” That’s not progress, that’s revenge.
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The bottom line is, it is 2015 America, and by virtue of being an American, black people shouldn’t have to scream “Black Lives Matter.” But until black people aren’t being senselessly killed and are included in “All Lives Matter,” we must scream over and over again, “Black Lives Matter.” Hopefully, the future might bring America a leader who will teach us how to truly make all and every life in this country matter. Because if peace and harmony isn’t meant for everyone and all, then we are all terrorists.
Keith L. Anderson, Ph.D., Boise, is founder of Anderson-Diversity Communication Training. He works with employers, employees and educators. He educates people about “how to move from nonracism to an anti-racism mentality.”