Before starting, I want to say that this is NOT one of my typical posts. This isn’t about my family or one of the antics that seems to run our lives. No activity juggling today. Instead, I’m trying to understand the many posts on my Facebook feed every day. I really think I’m on the same page as most of my friends (if not all), but the debate is out of control. And I want to understand it all. If I can’t be a part of the solution, I want to be sure that I’m not part of the problem. And, if I am, I want to fix that ASAP. Please help me to understand this.
And my confusion seems to boil down to a fight over a hashtag.
When I was growing up, my brother and I always knew we had one a political or social argument with our father when he pulled out his favorite tagline……Every issue has “many shades of gray”. Whenever he said this, my sibling and I knew that we had combatted and exhausted every detail that he could use to counter our points.
In the last several weeks (last week in particular), a social and political bomb grew and exploded. There were several unforgivable incidents that led this to happen. Don’t get me wrong….it’s been growing for a very long time. It just finally reached that explosive point. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has been around for a while. What I am having a problem with is the arguments between the #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter camps. It really seems to me that we’re on the same side. We all agree that there is a lot of senseless violence going on in the world right now. Everyone is saddened by not only the citizens being killed by police officers but by the violence against the officers that lead them to make the poor decisions. It’s a vicious circle that shows no end because one act feeds into the next and it just keeps growing and growing and growing.
Because we all can agree that the violence is senseless and needs to stop, that’s not the question I have.
Now, I will freely admit….at the moment I’m writing this (and apparently not fully understanding the issue), I am very much in the #AllLivesMatter perspective. I have spent most of my life (all but 4 years, actually) living as a part of a targeted minority all over the world (as a Jew). I know that it’s not the color of my skin where anyone who takes one look at me can tell that I’m a member of a minority. And, given my skin tone, I’m about as white as they come. If my skin isn’t pasty pale, it’s red from a sunburn. That’s the way it is. I have learned the history that the Jews have lived through and overcome, I see what happens all over the world…I’ve also been directly accused of killing Jesus by a classmate when I was growing up. Again, I know it’s not the same thing. And I’m not saying that I know the pain of those who have to live with the fear that they see in people’s eyes, just because of the amount of pigment in their skin.
And I consider myself colorblind. I remember a few years ago in the Super Bowl, the announcers pointing out that it was the first time that both teams had a black coach. Dad and I looked at each other thinking that we hadn’t noticed the color of either coach’s skin. It wasn’t important. Their skin color had nothing to do with the way they led their team to victory enough times and helped their team to strategize to get them to the biggest football game in the USA. When Barack Obama was campaigning and running for the office of President of United States, yes, I knew and recognized the significance of a black man running and ultimately being elected president for the first time. But that fact didn’t impact my vote. I voted for the candidate who I felt would do the better job, given my options. Skin color had nothing to do with it. The color of their skin says nothing about their political ideals or their level of devotion to our country.
Isn’t that what Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for? For all people, regardless of the color of their skin, to have the same opportunities? And, given how long it took to reach the point where he saw us, how far we have come in the less than 50 years since his death? Isn’t it about people seeing beyond the color of one’s skin and looking at the abilities of the individual?
I know that there are many (and I mean MANY) events in history that led to this struggle, starting with slavery, many Supreme Court decisions, constitutional amendments, etc. And I know it’s important to study history for, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. And I’m not saying that we should stop teaching about these historical events. They ARE important and should continue to shape the future. But they are also history. If we spend our lives living and dwelling in the past, we cannot see how far we’ve come. And if we can’t see how far we’ve come (and this may be where my lack of understanding comes into play), how can we see where we need to go?