I have grown weary in recent weeks of folks criticizing the BLM movement, of people outright chastising their fellow Christians for supporting the movement, or even just using the slogan. I grow weary because the initial purpose of the slogan was so simple, so unarguable, so very in line with what the Church should be teaching anyway: Dignity, protection under the law, serving the oppressed, the marginalized, the underrepresented. There really is no question that systemic racism is a reality in our country. Slavery itself is not far from living memory. Lynching, Jim Crow, systemic disenfranchisement, and the color bar are all within living memory. If you are a middle aged person of color, your parents or your grandparents know or knew someone who was a slave.
Wounds of this magnitude do not heal overnight, or over decades for that matter. Their reverberations continue for generations. A Black woman my age has no personal memory of slavery, but she grew up around people who grew up around people who did, and family history passes on to the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Any argument claiming that we should be past the race issue by now ignores the realities of family and societal dynamics.
Back to BLM—the movement, not necessarily the organization. What question can there be to the statement that our society as a whole, and its constituents individually, need a reminder that the experiences of white men and women do not stand alone in a vacuum, but take place in a construct which OUR ancestors created without an eye toward true justice for all? When our country was being birthed, the Black man and woman were not considered people. They were considered property. As imperfect people with an imperfect and, at times, violent history, we have to actively strive against racism. We’ve made progress, but we obviously have not arrived at the ideal. The very existence of #blacklivesmatter should be a wake up call to any white person who thinks we have.
We’re at the point—have been at the point for decades—where we need to reconsider our institutions, our assumptions, even our country’s founding principles, from a different perspective; from the perspective that yes, all men and women are created equal, and that all men and women includes our Black, Native American, Asian, Arab, and Hispanic brothers and sisters. We don’t need to throw out our ideals. We need to expand them to the point where they encompass us all by the very nature of our political, societal, educational, religious, and business systems. We are one, you and I, regardless of the color of your skin or mine. We are Americans. It will take more generations to figure out how to live it, but it will take less time if we refuse to cease striving toward the right to liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness, for all.