Today, one of our YA leaders, Kelsey Weisenberger writes on some of the recent events going on in the country.
As a white person, I struggle with figuring out how to articulate my feelings about racism. Not because my feelings about it are anything other than "anti" or because I don't want to offend someone (NOTE: if you're offended by someone not liking racists, then there's a bigger problem), but I'm finding it hard to figure out the balance between being an ally and speaking on behalf of something that I have never experienced. I want to be supportive, but the last thing the world needs is a white girl writing about how hard she thinks it is to be black.
So instead of talking about why black lives matter, I want to talk about the most common response to that phrase: All lives matter.
Picture this: You're sitting in the front row at your sister's wedding. She's standing up there looking beautiful, staring into the eyes of her almost-husband as she's reading the vows that she spent the last few weeks writing. A tear of joy rolls down her cheek as she ends her vows with "I love you". What? She loves him? But I thought she loved you? So you stand up and shout "But what about me? Don't you love me?"
You just #alllivesmatter'd your sister's wedding. You took the attention off of what was important in the moment to make sure that you were included. Her love for you hasn't changed, but the moment wasn't about your love, it was about theirs.
The statement is not "Black lives matter and only black lives".
The statement is not "Black lives matter more than white lives".
The statement is not "Black lives matter and we're better than everyone else".
No one is saying that your life doesn't matter if you are not black. No one is disagreeing that in fact, all lives do matter.
The problem with countering "black lives matter" with "all lives matter" is that you are taking the attention off of something that is incredibly important. The statement is necessary because not everyone agrees that black lives matter. The statement is necessary because black people have found themselves in situations over and over again proving that their lives do not matter to a lot of people. Your life mattering hasn't changed, but the phrase isn't about all lives mattering, it's about black lives mattering.
I completely understand the inclination for believers to want to chime in that "all lives matter" because it just feels biblical since we're called to love everyone. I don't know about you, but I've been singing "red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight" since I was 3 years old - I know that God loves everyone regardless of the color of their skin.
But when I hear “all lives matter”, James 1:27 comes to mind: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." Are orphans and widows more important than visiting the sick (James 5:14) or ministering to the unsaved (Matthew 28:19)? No, but James 1:27’s focus is on orphans and widows – not everyone needs to be included. It is okay to have a specific focus when there is a need right in front of you.
The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) didn't walk by the man who had been beaten up and just pointed out all of the other people that had had a rough time. He saw the man in pain and did everything possible to help.
When someone says "black lives matter", instead of pointing out that “all lives matter”, I would encourage you to be like the Good Samaritan and recognize the pain and see what you can do to help.
Ways to Help:
• Research black history (this is not asking a black person to explain their pain and hurt – it is not their place to educate you on black history)
• Listen to black people expressing their pain and hurt
• Do not get offended at someone pointing out something that you have done that came across as racist – be humble. Racism is a sin, you should be held accountable
• Acknowledge that there’s a difference between systemic and institutionalized racism
• Support black run businesses
• Be a safe space for black people