It’s Juneteenth. On Wednesday, I took part in the Wednesday Walk 4 Black Lives here in Kingston. Thank you to the organizers for continuing to do this and the inspiring speakers. Walking along, the route turned onto my block. As we were chanting “Black Lives Matter” a white man stood on his porch chanting in response “Blue Lives Matter, Green Lives Matter, All Lives Matter”.
There are a multitude of reasons why someone may feel the need to do this. The most obvious would be racism. But I am going to assume that the primary reason was ignorance, insecurity, white fragility and perhaps being caught up in the media swirl that often misrepresents BLM. To him and those like him, I say the following:
I want you to know that all lives of course matter. But I need you to know that the message I have received from this country is that mine does not. It has been made clear my whole life. When we were hauled like cattle as cargo on ships and discarded overboard when sick and dying, they said “your life doesn’t matter”. When we were sold as property, chained, tortured, raped and forced to work, they said “your life doesn’t matter”. When the emancipation proclamation was signed but they didn’t tell us, they said “your life doesn’t matter”. When they still denied our basic rights and assassinated those who fought for them, they said “your life doesn’t matter”. The dogs, the bullets, the lynchings, “your life doesn’t matter”. I assume you know this history too. That you have picked some of it up. But perhaps because your skin is colored differently you think differently. Perhaps you think we are past that. I’ll let you know when we are. And we aren’t yet. When you deny us access to wealth and property by creating laws to do so, you are saying “your life doesn’t matter”. When you unjustly imprison us, suspend us, and expel us, you are saying “your life doesn’t matter”. Every TV show and movie that I watched my people die first, you said “your life doesn’t matter”. And every time you kill us, especially by the people who supposedly have sworn to protect us, you are saying “your life doesn’t matter”.
Blue lives matter – what oppression have they faced? Who ever told them that their lives didn’t matter? How many centuries of hearing this message have they endured? None. Your fragility in the moment of our pain and our strength is simply not important. Work on it. Stop trying to make it important with your all lives matter talk. It is unbecoming.
I have pondered how I respond to this person who is a neighbor. I want to engage. That is what I feel called to do, in my heart. That’s just me. I also don’t want to engage as a black man talking to a white man that felt the need to yell this from his porch. I think I’ll leave him this as a letter and a BLM poster for him to put on his lawn as a sign that he understands.