Black Lives Will Matter & Here’s How
A Blog Series: How to Make a Black Life Matter
By Arianna Carr
If you are purposefully reading this article because you read the first article in the series “How to Make a Black Life Matter,” this most likely means that you are curious about solving the dilemma stated in the previous article. if you didn’t read the previous article, no worries. All you need is an open-mind and a willingness to change and take action.
To get us all up to speed, here’s the dilemma: Anyone of any race is liable to devalue a Black person’s life. Yes, this includes whites, blacks, and other American minorities.
Too often, in the media we see politicians and commentators blaming the issues on just one group of people. “It’s #blacklivesmatter’s fault for five police dying in Dallas.” “It’s all the cops fault for the deaths of unarmed black men.” This places the responsibility solely on one group, which allows another to scurry away from contributing to the solution. We all know and are annoyed by those who find satisfaction in blaming others for their problems without ever taking any accountability for their own role in the matter. Let’s not be that person. Let’s all acknowledge that this issue is not black and white (no pun intended). It is not one-sided. Let’s all humble ourselves and see where we can improve and take action.
I find it important to have this discussion on a more personalized level. Similar to how I discussed the problems, I have yet again broken down the solutions by race. The only difference is that the solutions may be taken out of their racial confinements and applied to people of all racesand ethnicities.
3 Things White People Can Do to Make Black Lives Matter:
ACKNOWLEDGE. If you have inner feelings of superiority or prejudice or if you notice that members of your family or close circle harness such emotions, please stop ignoring them. Talking about those feelings is the first step to recovering from what some of your ancestors may have instilled within you. We will never be able to fix a problem, if we cannot admit that there is one. I encourage all to listen to Macklemore’s song “White Privilege II.” A pretty remarkable line goes like this:
“My generation's taken on the torch of a very age-old fight for black liberation, but also liberation for everyone. Injustice anywhere is still injustice everywhere. — The best thing white people can do is talk to each other, having those very difficult, very painful conversations with your parents, with your family members. — I think one of the critical questions for white people in this society is, 'What are you willing to risk? What are you willing to sacrifice to create a more just society?'"
LEARN THE HISTORY. Go back to times of slavery and face the horrendous things that occurred. Do not be discouraged, you were not the slave owner, but please be enlightened. Through learning about the past, you can try not to repeat those same actions in the future. These instances of white cops shooting at innocent, unarmed black men is strikingly similar to the days when white men garbed with KKK robes rode around on their horses lynching, burning, tarring, and torturing blacks under the name of justice.
EXPOSE YOURSELF. No, I am not talking about listening to Drake and Future to get a handle black people and hip hop culture. Go and introduce yourself to that one black family in your neighborhood, that one black kid in your classroom or the few black people who work in your office. You may find that they are just like you or uniquely different from you. Try to even forge a friendship with a black person. Not so that in a racial argument, you can say you are not racist because you have a black best friend, but because it is the right thing to do. Trust me, it is way harder to hate or disrespect someone that looks like a person you love.
3 Things Black People Can Do to Make Black Lives Matter:
SELF IDENTITY. Who are we as black people? That is certainly not a question that I can answer for you. We have to start educating ourselves about our beautiful heritage. Go to your local museums and libraries to learn how strong and intelligent our people were and still are. It really will make you feel better about who you are. Your existence is nothing to be ashamed of. The saga series, Roots (the original as well as the remake), is a wonderful place to start.
SELF LOVE. It is time for us to embrace the way we look. It is time to start tearing down these Eurocentric standards of beauty. All people of all races are beautiful, and when I say “all,” black is included in that. The skin lightening creams have to go. The offensive, demeaning words have to go. The self-hate MUST go. If we cannot love ourselves, then how will we expect others to do the same. Black men, please remind your daughter, wife, mother, niece, and any other black woman in your life that she is beautiful just the way she is. By the way, if you decide to relax or straighten your daughter's hair, please remind her that it is not because her normal texture is not beautiful.
EMPOWER. I recently attended the Essence Festival in New Orleans. Seeing so many black people in positions of power reminded me that I, a black girl, can be successful too. People who look like me are capable. We do not have to be brainwashed by what the media instills in our minds. Even if you do not have a college degree or even a high school diploma, please encourage and motivate your children to attain it. They need to know that their family believes in them. I know I would not be who I am today without the support of my parents. Try to take advantage of the many programs and resources available like free tutoring and free after school clubs and programs for enhanced learning. Your black child is not worthless. That black child who may seem “too ghetto” or “too rachet” is not incapable of self-betterment and improvement. It is time to stop looking down on one another and time to embolden and liberate one another.
3 Things Other Minorities Can Do to Make Black Lives Matter:
REACH OUT. I understand that blacks may seem like foreign people, but we are not. Get to know us. Let go of your indifference, stop believing the stereotypes, and see how you can help make black lives matter.
SHOW APPRECIATION. Many of the civil rights that we all enjoy were fought for by African-Americans. Blacks suffered for and died for equality and justice throughout American history as they fought slavery, segregation, and systemic oppression. So if you find yourself every now & then feeling as though, you, as another minority, are better than a black person, try to remember that you are able to enjoy many of these liberties and equalities because of the sufferings of the black minority.
REFLECT ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES. As a minority, you may have experienced racism and prejudice…maybe even ironically from a black person. You most likely understand how it feels to be burdened with harassment and bullying because of the way you look. Try to take that resentment and turn it into positive energy to help create a more just and equal world.
3 Things Everyone Can Do to Make Black Lives Matter:
LOVE. Doesn’t it just sound beautiful? Say it with me, “love.” Such a simple word but so complex and profound in its impact on others.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous...It does not look for its own interest, does not become provoked. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth...Love never fails.” - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
RESPECT HUMAN LIFE. How am I supposed to love you if I do not even respect you? We must start to respect the lives and values of others. I sincerely believe that it was so easy for those officers to take the lives of PhilandoCastille, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Mario Woods, Laquan McDonald, Samuel DuBose, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and many other unarmed blacks because they did not respect their lives. If they respected their lives, they would have tried their very best to deescalate the situation…if there ever was a situation.
BELIEF AND HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE. We all know that this current world we live in will never be 100% peaceful and without turmoil. But I would be fraudulent if I did not share with you the hope that I personally have for a world free of pain and suffering under God’s Kingdom.
"Just a little while longer, and the wicked will be no more; You will look at where they were, And they will not be there. But the meek will possess the earth, And they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” - Psalms 37:10,11
I do hope and pray that you and others will come to a better perspective on the value of a black life because black lives do matter once we make them matter.
Keep up with Arianna on Twitter, @carri_ari!