When the Black Lives Matter movement first exploded last year, I reacted as the majority of people did: of course black lives matter, ALL lives matter. It’s interrelational. I had no doubts as to the validity of the claims that there exists racial profiling, racism, and race aggression. What countered their point, to me and others, were the faces chosen to exemplify both the reason for the movement and the need for nationwide support. Michael Brown’s record does factor into his death, as he was prone to violent outburst and was acting belligerent and threatening to that police officer, immediately post-robbery. To me, his death did not have to do with his race, and was unfortunately warranted. Eric Garner, while also acting hostile while being caught in a minor illegal act…….actually, I really thought the police officer would get charged. While the choke hold itself is understandable- as at the time he was resisting arrest and acting erratic- so should be the knowledge of death if inflicted for too long, especially after someone is telling you they can’t breathe. I was shocked when he was cleared. And I didn’t see anything that directly linked Sandra Bland’s death to negligence or aggression on the part of the police.
Phew, that’s out of the way. Let’s get back to the point. Media coverage on Black Lives Matter was on negative behavior: interrupting Bernie Sanders and forcing him out of his speech (himself a long time civil-rights activist), stopping traffic on an entire highway, preventing people from making flights at the airport. While many non-black people may mentally and emotionally support what the initial mission was, events such as this shove people away from active support.
That’s where I was, liking a couple All Lives Matter memes on Facebook, having lengthy (singularly viewed) discussions with co-workers and family who all believed the same about the whole explosive publicized cluster of events. Black Lives Matter, pshaw, ALL. Lives. Matter.
Then the police massacres started happening, and given my one co-worker is married to one, and I have several friends who are the children or spouses to cops, I probably shared a few Blue Lives Matter memes.
Oddly though, what changed my opinion was a required annual Sexual Harassment online thing my work is required to complete. The slide that upset me was the incredibly high incidence of rape and abuse for Native American women versus all other women. This was somewhere in January, and I wish I could remember the statistics, or what exactly was stated that upset me so much. The reaction I got? ‘Well, you know it’s their men. They’re all drunks and addicts.’ I was horrified. I argued that I would bet anything it was white men. A quick Google search proved not only that this was true, but that it was even worse than just the crimes and statistics alone. Because of the unique governing stature of Native American law versus common law, and the fact that the perpetrators are white- regardless of living on Native controlled land- they can’t be charged or prosecuted. It floored me. Because they’re white, they should fall under state law. But because the victims are Native and it occurred on Native land, all crimes fall under federally granted Native law, which then technically overrides state law, which has no bearing over non-Native people, therefore……..absolutely nothing.
I was outraged, and posted a link on Facebook. Not one person commented or emojied or anything. This absolutely pissed me off, and changed my entire perception towards Black Lives Matter. I understood then what people were trying to say, and what it felt like to not be heard, to have atrocities happen to you because of something you don’t choose or control, and for there to be no legal ramifications for it. Seriously, how hopeless does that leave an entire demographic of people?
I hate references to slavery. And why are we still writing novels and producing movies about The Holocaust? They were generations ago, and can’t possibly affect people anymore. Maybe if we stop referring back to them, everyone can heal? I lately avoid both. I can’t have the evilness of either in my mind. What the hell was wrong with the world that they thought everything done within those realms was at all excusable? I Can’t. Super emotional Cancer here who hoards everything, including others’ experiences and pains and emotions. Astrological burden. In no way is this denial, I just can’t. Same as refusing to read any media details of abuse or murder or rape. I can’t fathom gobbling up gory details and gloating over them, pretending to actually care. So I avoid, which is not cold or unfeeling. It’s the opposite. The whole reality of each makes me sick to my stomach and impacts my whole psyche to a dangerous degree.
So I’m a writer. I absorb what’s happening around me and put it into stories and fictional characters to alleviate my own burden, to process, to reform my beliefs, to understand other people. I use the term ‘Other’ a lot, very significantly, in Red. My main thread with her was how traumas to one individual will ripple down through the generations and alter everyone’s lives until it is dealt with. Regardless of being white, I was born female, so I do have an understanding of being targeted and discriminated against, to that particular degree. My theory regarding the rift of women’s rights and the crime of rape: (not all) white men will never fully understand what it is to have to reconsider every move and decision you make (can I drive through this area, can I jog through this park, should I park in this spot of the parking lot- are there any vans? am I too far from sight, is there adequate lighting- can I trust my new male friend/new date when out together alone, will my new male doc be a misogynistic ass and talk to me as though we’re in the Victorian era and my feeble female mind isn’t strong enough to comprehend simple concepts regarding my own body, is this guy walking into my vet clinic job going to refuse to talk to me because of my gender, is this outfit too sexy or not sexy enough and will it create some sort of retaliation from my husband/boyfriend/stranger and god I’m so confused about how I’m expected to dress, if I’m not ‘nice’ about his harassment or demeaning comment/request things are going to get worse for me, will my government succeed in stripping away every reproductive and health-related right I had yesterday?) etc….Maybe this is getting in the way of ending racism. People who have no experience with any sort of discrimination cannot make a personal link that allows them to empathize and get angry enough to take a stand.
Anyway, not a post on gender, but you get my parallel: to a different degree, I can relate. In theory, everyone has the capacity to at least understand.
Back to ‘trauma to one affecting all who follow’. A post doc at my work- who is Jewish- mumbled a comment one day about everyone in the history of time and the world trying to kill her people. I can’t remember what had happened that incited the comment, but I remember stopping what we were doing and just staring at her, trying to grasp the totality of it in just a few seconds. Bible stories to the Holocaust to the racism I currently hear directed towards Jewish people. Holy f*%k. No wonder descendants of all this…seriously, what do you call it? I’ve already said atrocity and horror. It’s completely laughable, those words. Jews, Native Americans, blacks- no wonder they retain their historical trauma. How can you not? How completely ignorant to think it could just be wiped from their thoughts and not affect anyone at all anymore.
Which leads to a book fair I was displaying my book at. I wandered around to chat with other writers, and came across a man who’d written about his Polish/Jewish ancestors’ experiences during WWII. On his table was a flier regarding research into Epigenetics, which is the scientific study into how demographically traumatic events actually alter a person’s DNA…..which, yep, trickles down through the generations and changes everyone.
Of course, the study only focused on Holocaust survivors. Why not black Americans? Native Americans? I’ve lived in a couple different states, and in all, the absolute poorest communities were only black Americans. Why? Teenagers engaging in the ‘knock-out’ phenomenon portray an absolute apathy towards life and others that is shocking. Watching interviews and news clips, and there’s something missing in their eyes. How does that exist in kids? Watch documentaries of Native Americans and how they’ve lived since being forced into reservations after the world’s first holocaust, and the incidence of suicide in their children, children younger than mine, was painful to see. How can there exist such a sense of hopelessness? Why? And it’s ignored, hidden from everyone’s awareness so that schools can tell us and our children that racism is gone and life in our democracy is Awesome. You should all be so grateful! Something’s pointedly not being addressed in these communities, and it’s beginning to create a logical backlash, yet everyone’s shifting focus, and racism is kept alive.
But we elected a black president. Yay us! We’re so progressive.
To replace him, we’ve been given the most backwards, misogynistic, racist candidates to ever be produced by the Republican Party. No wonder the justice system is so mucked up. Then, the outlandish attack on all Muslims has formed. I’m watching friends’ views play out on Facebook, and I’m disheartened even further. I was approached by a young Arabic girl outside a Catholic school, who wanted to know if I was voting for Trump. WTH? Our children should not be so to-their-core worried! She should not live with such a fear, or see so much hate directed at her nationality in her own country. Her whole DNA has just been shifted, and the outcome of her life has been altered, and no one can reverse that.
I jumped way too far ahead and got off point. Well, not completely. The plight of Native American Women, learned back in late 2015 after the first publicized round of police-related deaths, was a catalyst pushing me towards understanding and supporting the necessity of Black Lives Matter. Then the current legal struggle of women’s reproductive health has me actively voicing Women’s Reproductive Choices Matter. The wave of hatred against Muslims has me arguing against anything posted against their demographic. I got into arguments with friends and others when the bathroom thing came up. But when the real, factual environment of rape occurs and the rapist isn’t actually prosecuted, those same people were silent. WTH is going on in my world? This is not the one I stand for or believe in. I’ve never considered myself an activist, but Silence is not an option. This is not the life I choose.
A couple days ago, two more men- who were black- were killed by police. I have not looked into the first man’s death, but I did read about- holy sh*t. I wanted to look up the second man’s name, but the name I remembered turned out to be the first man’s- Alton’s- and the video started playing. All things Holy……
I learned about these occurrences after a cryptic, hopeless sounding post on Facebook about being a good man but fitting the black profiled target. What can I say to that? A tear-falling emoji is absolutely not adequate. A little comment decrying the inequality of the world can in no way impart the above culmination of my experiences and observations and thought processes to show how genuine my (white woman) sympathy is. I feel like I can’t directly offer my empathy or support. It just sounds so superfluous and insignificant, and I’m guessing that’s why there may appear to be a lot of silence from other non-black Americans.
But Silence is not an option.
It was another day before one person posted a newsclip about the second shooting to clue me in to what had happened. (I don’t watch the news, not that it actually matters. I stopped trusting the news long ago). It hadn’t even popped up on yahoo. That article mentioned that it was the second incidence of the week. So now I’m writing this blog post. Why? Because I’m a writer who expresses my thoughts in this capacity, and mostly because that was it. Two people upset for these men, which really, by now, aren’t two isolated rare instances. I posted a few things as an experiment, and no one reacted, much as I anticipated.
Then the retaliation occurred in Dallas, same as last year, and Facebook exploded in All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter and (warranted) sympathy for the victims. Yahoo reported on that. (I know, yahoo is the last source to trust regarding actual ‘news’. I’ve seen their writer job postings and have met some yahoo writers, along with actually reading really bad ‘journalistic articles’.)
I scrolled through Facebook, my only way of measuring the current mentality of things, and sat back, unable to support any All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter or things related to the attack on the police in Dallas. I noticed what it was doing, acting as an attack on the relevance of Black Lives Matter, implicitly overshadowing their experience and pain, and glossing over the overly high occurrence of police-related deaths and of the remaining existence of racism. (Like talking about a rapist’s swim record to diminish the actuality of his crime and steal away the impact inflicted upon his victim. Look at this unrelated thing, so you do NOT see the real threat.) The existence and actions of bad cops doesn’t imply any sort of attack on good cops. Calling out the bad doesn’t state that the lives of police as a whole don’t matter.
This morning, posts have begun to appear to further invalidate Black Lives Matter because of collected tweets (from Trump, or course) showing how some people were celebrating and calling for the deaths of more white police officers.
You know, that man walked into Planned Parenthood and murdered several people, but despite his political and religious claims, no one attacked the Pro-life movement, Christianity, or the Republican party for his actions. People did, however, praise his actions and thank him. Not much backlash for that.
That kid walked into a black church, prayed with them, and then murdered them, but no one attacked white Christians for his actions.
One Muslim guy attacks a gay bar- not an ISIL concern EVER- and everyone attacks all Muslims and starts screaming ‘terrorist!’. (and for the record, ‘Isis’ is the main Egyptian Goddess, around since the beginning of time. She is not an extreme terroist. I’m hoping some old-time Egyptian Karma resurfaces for the bastards who turned her name into a hateful acronym. Pretty sure she doesn’t like what ISIL’s doing to women. So STOP referring to them as ISIS. President has stopped, but all others refuse.)
Again, initially, I leaned towards All Lives Matter vs specifically Black Lives Matter. My fear was that making such a blatant segregation was going to push us back towards segregation. It wasn’t because I thought they didn’t matter, or that racism was over, or because of a few aggravating protests that I’d decided that the cause was completely invalid.
But within a couple months, I got it. I’m not the sort who stays blindsided to hold onto an initial declaration.
Because guess what? When the Women’s Rights movement finally formed, it was never to diminish or eliminate the rights of men. And it never did. We got jobs and earned money AND bore and raised children and still, ‘the sanctity of marriage and the purity of motherhood and the state of the home’ never diminished. The first human rights movement to end slavery wasn’t to destroy the world or remove the white community’s existence. We’re still here. When the civil rights movement emerged again in the 60’s, it was never to attack or strip away the rights of non-black citizens. Again, nearly 60 years later, and nothing was taken away! Gay rights was never an attack on straight marriage or family values and in no way will alter our lives as straight people. Marrying for the wrong reasons, misrepresentation, and being a general ass of a person destroys marriage and family values. And animal rights never infringed upon being human. No Animal Farm come to life! Imagine that. In order to create balance, things grow. They don’t get reassigned to remain within the size of their original constraints.
So because I believe that All Lives Matter, I recognize and support the necessity of Black Lives Matter. Until we don’t need to focus on each demographic of our people anymore.